Summer Vegetable Salad, with Gambas al Ajillo and Quick-Pickled Young Onions

This is an adaptation of a recipe on Smitten Kitchen. The difference between this version and Deb’s is that it’s not meatless, although I suppose if you were inclined, you can omit the shrimp and it will taste just as delicious.

Summer vegetable salad (new potatoes, sugar snap peas, heirloom tomatoes, summer squash) with gambas al ajillo and quick-pickled young onions
Summer vegetable salad, with gambas al ajillo and quick-pickled young onions

Gambas al ajillo, or “garlic shrimp” in Spanish, is just that — shrimp sautéed in olive oil and garlic. It’s a classic Spanish tapa that’s also a favorite in my kitchen. After all, it’s just shrimp, salt, olive oil and garlic. You could make this a meal all by itself, with some crusty bread on the side to sop up the juices.

What I love about this salad is the interplay between the shrimp and the vegetables. It’s truly a symphony that’s more than the sum of its parts.

1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
salt
olive oil
1/2 lb. small-sized new potatoes, sliced in half
1 summer squash or zucchini, thinly sliced
2 medium-sized heirloom tomatoes, diced
about 1/4 lb. sugar snap peas, trimmed
6 small young onions, peeled and trimmed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup distilled vinegar
1/4 cup water

For the garlic shrimp:

Place shrimp in a small bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Gently warm olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add half of the garlic and cook until garlic takes on a little color, about 1 minute. Add shrimp. Cook until shrimp turns orange-pink. Taste for salt, then remove from heat and set aside.

For the potatoes and peas:

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add potatoes. Cook until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 7 to 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. In the pot in which you cooked the potatoes, bring a similar quantity of lightly salted water to a boil, then add the sugar snap peas. Cook until peas are crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, then shock in a bowl of ice water. Drain and set aside.

For the quick-pickled onions:

Whisk vinegar, water, salt and sugar together in the bottom of a small container with a lid until the salt and sugar dissolve. Sliver the onions, and add to the sugar-vinegar mixture. Cover, then place in the refrigerator. Let the onions pickle for one to two hours, or preferably overnight. Pickled onions can be made in advance. Reserve 3 to 4 tablespoons pickling liquid.

For the zucchini and tomato sauté:

Gently warm olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add remaining garlic and cook until it takes on a little color, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add summer squash or zucchini, along with a pinch of salt. Cook until vegetables turn a pale golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes to the pan; cook, stirring frequently or until tomatoes have warmed through and have begun to partially break down. Remove from heat.

Whisk together reserved pickling liquid and 1/4 cup olive oil.

Combine tomato mixture, along with potatoes and sugar snap peas in a large glass bowl. Mix well. Spoon onto a salad plate, top with shrimp and pickled onions. Spoon dressing atop salad, as desired, then serve at once.

Time: 1 hour, including prep.

This is my submission for Souper (Soup, Salad and Sammie) Sundays for the week of July 18, 2011 to July 24, 2011, a weekly foodblogging event organized and hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen.

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