Watermelon and Cress Salad with Grilled Shrimp and Hearts of Palm

PUBLISHED ON: 06.12.2011

We had a most enjoyable weekend.  We played in the dirt (we have a family garden plot), did much needed yard work.   In the evening we drank cocktails with friends in our community garden patch, and enjoyed light summer meals.   If only we could do this more often….

One of the meals that was a highlight of our evening was this main entree salad.  The subtle sweetness of the watermelon is a nice contrast to the grilled shrimp and hearts of palm.  The crumbled cheese adds just enough salty flavor to make it all work together.

Watermelon and Cress Salad with Grilled Shrimp and Hearts of Palm
Serves 2

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. jumbo shrimp (21-25 per lb), peeled and deveined
3 canned hearts of palm, drained and patted dry (about half of a 14-oz can.)
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon minced shallot
6 oz. watercress or upland cress, separated into small sprigs, thicker stems trimmed
1/2 cup packed fresh basil, thinly sliced
12 oz. watermelon, thinly sliced into narrow wedges, rind removed, seeded if necessary
3 oz. ricotta salata, crumbled (about 3/4 cup) Note: we used feta

Prepare a medium-high gas or charcoal grill fire.  meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk 1-1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons of the mustard, the lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Toss the shrimp in the marinade and let sit for about 10 minutes.
Thread the shrimp onto metal skewers.  Toss the hearts of palm with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Grill the shrimp and the hearts of palm, flipping once, until they have nice grill marks and the shrimp are just cooked through, about 4 minutes total.  When cool enough to handle, halve the hearts of palm lengthwise, and then cut crosswise into thirds.  remove the shrimp from the skewers.
In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1 teaspoon mustard with the vinegar, shallot, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a thin stream.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.
In a large bowl, toss the cress and basil with just enough of the dressing to lightly coat.  Season to taste with salt.  Divide the greens between 2 plates.  Top with the watermelon wedges and drizzle lightly with the remaining dressing.  Top with the hearts of palm, shrimp, and crumbled ricotta salata or similar cheese.

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