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Creating a Light Summer Small Plates Dinner On the Fly

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Sometimes the best dinners happen on the fly. After an exhausting day of cleaning out closets and a storage unit preparing for a combined garage sale, my sister Shan and I were almost catatonic sitting in her car trying to decide on something easy we could make for dinner at my place.

I did have prosciutto and burrata on hand which I had bought the previous day to make burrata, prosciutto, and sautéed peach crostini simply because it sounded so good at the time. This became the basis for our dinner. Shan was in the mood for spinach so we decided on salad to go with the crostini and I wanted golden raisins if we were having spinach salad. With that we decided we had enough of a plan to hit the grocery store and 20 minutes later we were headed home with peaches, spinach, golden raisins, slivered almonds, ciabatta bread, and extra large wild caught shrimp in hand.

Our plan for crostini and a spinach salad with grilled shrimp still wasn’t fully hatched but we figured we were close enough and we could fill in with the details at home. After digging in my fridge for something to toss the shrimp in we had our plan and here is what we came up with.

Are you ready?

Red currant glazed grilled shrimp on spinach salad with toasted almonds, golden raisins and summer peach balsamic dressing served alongside prosciutto di Parma & burrata crostini topped with sautéed peaches.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

Crostini:

Ciabatta bread – 1 loaf, save time by having it sliced in the bakery

Olive oil – enough to paint on both sides of bread

Prosciutto di Parma – thinly sliced, plan on ½ slice per crostini

Burrata – 1 package, set out prior to using so it is creamy rather than firm

Peach or nectarine – 1

Slivered almonds – 1 Tbsp

Spinach salad with grilled shrimp:

Shrimp – 1 pound 26/30 count or 10/15 count

Salted butter – 1 ½ to 2 Tbsp

Garlic – 3 cloves

Red currant preserves (spread) – ¼ cup (or substitute with other fruit preserves of your preference)

Champagne vinegar – 1+ tsp

Skewers for grilling shrimp

Baby spinach – 1 package

Golden raisins – about ½ cup

Slivered almonds – about 1/3 cup

Black forest bacon – 2 slices, or whichever bacon you prefer

Extra virgin olive oil – 3 Tbsp

Summer peach balsamic vinegar (or other fruit vinegar) – 1 to 3 Tbsp

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

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Prepare the grill and the ciabatta:

Pre-heat grill on medium high with lid closed

Brush on olive oil to both sides of bread

Stack bread slices and cut in half crosswise

Set aside on platter for grilling

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Prepare the shrimp for the grill:

Shell and devein shrimp then dry well and place in refrigerator while you prepare the red currant glaze.

Heat ¼ cup of red currant preserves in a small sauce pan on medium low to low. It will start to liquefy somewhat.

While this is heating sauté three crushed garlic cloves in a tablespoon of butter until garlic is soft but not brown.

Add the butter and garlic into the mixture and reduce a bit for a minute or two and remove from heat, place in small bowl and let cool for a couple of minutes.

Stir in a teaspoon or so of champagne vinegar and a pinch of salt to taste. Taste to be sure the sweet, salt, acid balance tastes right to you and adjust accordingly.

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While the red currant glaze is cooling, wipe down the sauté pan and melt about ½ tablespoon of butter over medium to medium-low heat and toast the slivered almonds. These will be used in the salad and sprinkled on the crostini.

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Again wipe the skillet out, cut the bacon into strips and cook until crispy bits on medium heat. This will be tossed into the spinach salad.

Toss the shrimp in salt and let sit a minute then toss in the glaze.

Thread through skewers. If you are using wood skewers you will need to soak them for at least 20 minutes so they do not burn on the grill.

Grill the ciabatta and the shrimp:

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Now for the grilling! Turn grill down to low and grill both sides of bread until golden with grill marks. Place on plate and turn the grill heat up to high close lid until grill is heated.

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Once grill is heated again open lid and adjust heat to medium high. Brush olive oil lightly on the side of shrimp you will be grilling first so it doesn’t stick. Place shrimp oil side down on grates and do not walk away as shrimp cooks within minutes. Try not to move the shrimp around. Once it releases easily lift slightly to check for grill marks, about two minutes.

Paint the second side of the shrimp with olive oil and flip. Again try not to move the shrimp until you have grill marks. Depending on size the shrimp should only take a couple of minutes at most per side. Remove to platter and start to assemble the crostini and salad.

Pre-assemble the salad:

Place baby spinach in a bowl and add the golden raisins, bacon bits, fresh ground pepper, sea salt, and toasted almonds, setting a side a few to sprinkle on your crostini. Make the vinaigrette for the spinach salad by whisking the peach balsamic into the olive oil. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Prepare and assemble the crostini:

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Seed the peach or nectarine and slice thinly. While we bought peaches, they were too mealy, so we substituted with nectarines. Add ½ tablespoon or so of butter and sauté until warmed.

Cut a piece of the thinly sliced prosciutto in half and place on grilled ciabatta. Top with a piece of the burrata and a couple of warm peach or nectarine slices. Sprinkle with a few slivered toasted almonds. For an extra treat you may want to drizzle some browned butter on right before serving. This will add a decadent touch.

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Assemble the dish:

Toss the spinach salad with dressing. Adding a little at a time until it is lightly coated. Place on plate and top with several pieces of the grilled shrimp. Garnish with 2 or 3 pieces of the crostini.

This fun summer dish is colorful, full of texture both crunchy and creamy, and is the perfect combination of sweet, salty and tangy. We loved it because small plates are our favorite way to eat and this really was a simple meal that combined three small easy dishes into one.

While it looks like quite a few steps, the entire meal can be prepared in under an hour from start to finish.

Dana Wilde grew up playing “sous chef” for her father as he churned out one amazing meal after the next for family and friends. She inherited her father’s life long passion for cooking and has spent the past two decades studying, reading, practicing, experimenting, and creating in the kitchen. Together, she and her sister, Shan are Simply Wilde, a small boutique catering business focusing on in-home entertaining.

 

 

 

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