Toronto’s been having some of the hottest weather in years and today we’re expected to reach the hottest temperature EVER for the city. We complain it’s too cold to grill or eat outside and now the flipside…it’s too hot! The A/C is on, I have the stovetop at my disposal and one must eat. Chalk up this pretty dish as being a salad and a meal. One portion is certainly a meal even for the hungriest of “hungry men” and for the more civilized, this makes for a wonderful shared salad for two.
The dressing here is my basic go-to blend of 3-to-1 oli to acid ratio, a squirt of mustard, some honey, salt and pepper and on this occasion I used oregano. Mint, basil or tarragon would also work well here. There’s mixed salad greens, whole shrimp, some crispy fried zucchini, eggplant and green beans (yes) and the centerpiece – the grilled Manouri cheese.
Manouri cheese is a by-product of making sheep’s milk Feta. When making cheese, the whey is leftover and Manouri is made. This cheese is soft yet dense – will crumble if you want it to yet firm enough to remain intact if you slice it carefully. I usually eat Manouri for breakfast with some toast, it’s great as a dessert with poached fruit and many creperies in & around Thessaloniki serve crepes with Manouri & ham.
I also like to grill Manouri. I’ve featured a few recipes grilling another fave – Halloumi which is also very forgiving over heat but Manouri is even easier to grill! Rub some oil on both sides and grill over medium-high heat for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes a side and you’ll have a warm cheese with gorgeous grill marks.
This salad relies on the ingredients’ flavours and different textures. back to the fried vegetables: zucchini, eggplant and grean beans. I had all three in my fridge and I wanted a sinful component to the salad…fried vegetables. I simply sliced the zucchini and eggplant wafer-thin with my mandoline, trimmed the beans and double-dredged them in seasoned all-purpose flour. Try this: dredge veggies in flour, quickly dip in cold water then dredge a second time in flour. Fry ’til golden and crisp and blot on paper, sprinkle some salt and enjoy!
This whole salad came together indoors: vinaigrette emulsified in a bowl then tossed the salad, a couple zucchini and eggplant strips fried in about an inch of oil and finally, I pulled out the grill pan and seared the Manouri cheese then cooked-off the shrimp. Once again, make dressing then fry veggies then grill Manouri and shrimp. Assemble.
This salad is about textures and flavours: tangy dressing with peppery mixed greens, the crunch of fried veggies and the sweet, succulent shrimp and buttery grilled Manouri cheese that should be broken-off and placed in the mouth with each bite of the salad. Is it lunch yet?
Grilled Manouri and Shrimp Salad
4 whole shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. of sweet paprika
sea salt and ground pepper
pinch of garlic powder
1 – 1/2inch slice of Manouri cheese
3 cups of loosely packed mixed greens, washed and dried
1/2 cup sweet cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp. sliced red onions
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
squirt of honey
2 tsp. chopped chives
1/2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1-2 strips of zucchini
1-2 strips of Japanese eggplant
6 green beans, trimmed
salt and pepper
oil for frying
- Peel t he shells off your shrimp, leaving the tails in tact (leave the head on as well). Devein your shrimp (use my toothpick method) and rinse and pat-dry. Toss the shrimp with oil, garlic, paprika and salt and pepper and reserve.
- Wash your greens and pat-dry or pass through your salad spinner and set aside. Take a large bowl and add your mustard, honey, and vinegar and whisk. Now slowly add the olive oil while whisking until emulsified. Add the salt and pepper to taste and chives and oregano then reserve.
- Thinly slice your zucchini and eggplant lengthwise with a mandoline and trim your beans. Place some flour in a plate and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the vegetables in flour, then dip in cold water and once again dredge in flour. Add enough oil into a fry pan to fill it to 1 inch and when hot, add the vegetables are fry until crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve on paper-lined towel. Sprinkle sparingly with sea salt.
- Place a grill pan on your stove-top over medium-high heat and add about a Tbsp. of olive. When the pan is hot, add the Manouri cheese and grill for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes a side. Carefully remove and reserve. In the same grill pan, add your shrimp and grill for 1 minute a side or flip when pink.
- Time to assemble the salad. Add the mixed greens, tomatoes and onions into the bowl with dressing and toss to coat the greens. Place the zucchini and eggplant strips in a cross pattern on your plate then top with your salad greens. Place the Manouri cheese on top of the salad and place the shrimp around the cheese. Place the fried green beans upright leaning on the cheese and serve.
- Pair with a chilled bottle of Gerovassliou Chardonnay.
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