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« Rite of Spring | Main | Taming the Taste for Wild Mushrooms »

The First Salad of the Season

By Lori Powell

The fresh air of spring has arrived and with it are thoughts of bathing suits, the ocean, vacations, spring cleaning and fresh produce. With the advent of fresh produce comes inspiration for lovely salads for dinner and for lunch, hopefully resulting in a couple of pounds and inches off my frame.

My first salad of the season is a pickled shrimp and red onion concoction with cucumber. You make a simple pickling liquid which uses seasoned rice vinegar, agave, star anise and a pinch of heat from red pepper flakes. The star anise is optional but adds nice dimension to the pickling liquid.

Star anise can be found in the spice section of the supermarket. This spice is shaped like a star about one inch in diameter and has eight dark-brown spokes. It is grown in China and Japan, similar to licorice and anise, and is one of the spices in five-spice powder.

I use star anise whenever I want to add an exotic background note to simple syrup, which is basically a sugar syrup made with equal parts sugar and water, boiled until sugar is melted, then cooled. It’s great to use in just about anything where you need a sweetener, such as iced tea or in homemade sorbets and granitas. Or try this grapefruit recipe from my previous post.

Seasoned rice vinegar is usually sold in the vinegar section of the supermarket or in the International aisle next to Asian ingredients. Be sure to get the kind labeled “seasoned.”

Enjoy the first salad of the season!

To get the recipe and shopping list on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.

Pickled Shrimp Salad
Serves 1

3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons agave or honey
1 star anise, (optional)
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
1/3 cup sliced red onion
1 halved and sliced small Kirby cucumber
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

Bring vinegar, agave, star anise and pepper flakes to a boil in a non-reactive saucepan. Add shrimp and simmer until cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.

Stir in onion and cucumber. Transfer to a bowl and chill, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cool.

Stir in cilantro and enjoy.

Serving Options:

  • Spoon into taco shells and top with guacamole
  • Serve on top of rice noodles
  • Fill a pita or a tortilla
  • Fill rice paper rolls to make Asian spring rolls and serve with a peanut dipping sauce.

Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Our bloggers blog Monday through Friday to give you cooking inspiration. Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Related posts:
  1. Last Chance: Watermelon Salad
  2. Talkin’ Pumpkin (and not the Carving Kind….)
  3. Fun with Grapefruit
  4. It’s Easy Being Green
  5. Skinny Dipping for Super Bowl Sunday

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