Are you ready to move on from Valentine’s Day?
Your sweetheart forgot to give you flowers. Your chocolate soufflé fell flat. You ate too much chocolate. You drank too much wine. You don’t have a sweetheart. Etcetera.
I’m not sorry to say goodbye to the whole rigmarole around the holiday designed to shore us up in the middle of winter. So I’m celebrating this weekend with this salad. Where I live, winter still stretches ahead, and while the privileged few can escape to warm beaches, the rest of us winter-weary folk must find solace on the plate. This fennel salad with pretty colors of Cara-Cara and blood oranges topped with pan grilled shrimp is crunchy, refreshing and a sight for sore eyes.
Shrimp in the case at your market are labeled “previously frozen” and are defrosted at an indeterminate time. You’re much better off buying frozen unshelled shrimp with “IQF” (individually quick frozen) on the label. They’re flash frozen at the harvesting site and defrost quickly in a cold-water bath. Pink and white domestic frozen shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico are the best choice if you want to avoid imported shrimp, which have controversial harvesting practices.
To peel a shrimp, grasp it by the tail. Start at the large end (where the head was), pull off the legs and outer shell together, and leave the tail segment attached and unpeeled. With a paring knife, make a shallow cut along the curved edge of the shrimp and tease out the mud vein with the tip of the knife. Peel the shrimp yourself or buy pre-peeled large shrimp, and this salad will be just the right antidote to winter doldrums.
Fennel and orange salad with pan-seared shrimp
Juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1. In a small bowl, whisk the orange juice, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper together.
2. Slowly whisk in the oil. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if you like
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
2 bulbs fennel, halved and thinly sliced crosswise
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 oranges (cara-cara, blood oranges, navel, or a combination)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds large (16-20 count per pound) frozen shrimp, defrosted, peeled, with tails left on
1/4 cup mint leavesA few fennel fronds (for garnish)
Aleppo pepper (for sprinkling)
1. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. In a large bowl, place the onion slices. Pour boiling water over them to cover, and let stand for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Return the onions to the bowl.
2. Add the fennel slices to the bowl and toss with half the dressing, salt and pepper.
3. With a serrated knife, trim the ends of each orange. Stand 1 orange flat side down on a cutting board. Using a sawing motion, curving with the shape of the orange, cut the pith and peel from top to bottom. Repeat all around the orange until it is peeled. Cut the orange into rounds. Repeat with the remaining oranges.
4. On a platter, arrange the fennel, onions and orange slices.
5. In a large, heavy-based skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the shrimp and spread them to make one layer in the skillet. Cook for 1 minute. Turn and cook for 1 minute more, or until the shrimp are cooked through.
6. Arrange the shrimp over the salad. Distribute the parsley, mint leaves and fennel fronds on top. Drizzle with more dressing and sprinkle with Aleppo pepper.