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Salad Days – Shrimp-Grape-Almond Salad and Raspberry-Rum Fizz

It’s hot. It’s bloody hot, but at least it’s dry. After lots of rain this week, it’s now really hot outside, just in time for a holiday weekend. Better yet, I feel as though my apartment traps heat so there’s no real escape. This is the time of year when it is just excruciating to cook. Anything that causes the temperature to rise inside is to be avoided. Greens wilt. Appetites dwindle. Nothing seems appealing.

Supplemented with some other items I had in the house and a few things I picked up on the way back to my apartment, I threw together a light supper, in tune with the weather. The Shrimp-Grape-Almond Salad is inspired by one that I used to eat at a restaurant near where I went to graduate school in Washington, D.C. It is light, fresh and full of great tastes. My hope is that it helps you get through this torrid summer as well.

This is also the time of year when really great produce is available and loads of wonderful fresh fruit is coming into season. I took advantage of the nice weather to check out the newest edition to the farmers’ markets in town. Nina Planck, who used to run the Greenmarkets in New York City, has set up two markets. One of them is on a thin triangle of land on Lafayette Street between Spring Street and Kenmare Street. This is the one that I visited today.  The newsletter they sent around said that some of the showings would be lighter as the heavy rain this week caused damage to some of the crops. Nina’s folks came up from Virginia to lend a hand this weekend. Next time, I’m going to try the other market on 6th Avenue between Bleecker Street and Houston Street.

Although, as the photos show, there were some nice veggies available, I didn’t find what I really wanted there, so I ended up at my usual – the Union Square Greenmarket. Unfortunately, it was later in the afternoon, my having been distracted by the England-Portugal World Cup match, so many places were closing up. I did pick up some salad greens and my first fresh local raspberries of the season.

Raspberry-Rum Fizz

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients (use these proportions per person): 1/4 cup Red Raspberries, pureed 1/4 tsp White Sugar 1 shot Light Rum Sparkling Mineral Water Fresh whole Red Raspberries to garnish

Assembly: Measure out 1/4 cup raspberries per person. Put in food processor and puree until liquid. Add 1/4 tsp sugar per person being served. Puree one minute more.

Place fine-mesh sieve over clean glass or ceramic bowl. Empty contents of food processor into sieve. With wooden spoon or rubber scraper, push contents through sieve. Do not try to make seeds and large pulp pieces go through the sieve. The liquid is what is wanted.

Measure out one tablespoon raspberry puree per glass. Add one shot of rum. Fill glass two-thirds full with sparkling mineral water. Garnish the rim with one whole raspberry dipped in sugar.

Shrimp-Grape-Almond Salad

Prep time: 30 minutes

Ingredients (use these proportions per person): 6 jumbo Shrimp per person, peeled, deveined 1 cup Mesclun or other mixed greens 1/3 cup Red Grapes, cut in half 1/4 cup Slivered Almonds, toasted 1/4 cup crumbled Goat Cheese 3 Tbsp extra-virgin Olive Oil 1 medium clove Garlic, super-finely chopped Lemon juice Salt Pepper Whole wheat pitas Hummus

Assembly: Heat griddle pan over medium high heat. (unless you decide to grill them on a barbecue) Peel and devein shrimp, unless bought prepped. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook shrimp until pink on one side, flip over and cook until opposite side is also pink. These should take about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

At the same time, in pre-heated 300o F (150o C, Gas Mark 2) oven, toast slivered almonds until light brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Put garlic, pinch of salt and 1/8 tsp pepper in bowl. Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Whisk together until thickened and turns a light yellow color.

Mound mesclun in center of plate. Dot grape halves, almonds and cheese on top of greens. Place shrimp around the plate. Drizzle with lemon-garlic dressing. If wanted, serve with grilled pita bread and store-bought hummus (or in my case from the local Mediterranean restaurant).

Variation: Substitute shrimp for grilled chicken and red grapes for green.

Buon appetito!

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