I started out envisioning these as lettuce cups wrapped and tied with scallion greens. I’ve done that before, and actually with some luck, but the idea just didn’t work here. The filling I’d used in the past, made with home-made ricotta, was more dense, more cooperative when being rolled up and tied in place. The shrimp filling has more a mind of its own, so I declared victory and am calling them Hand-Held Salads. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Think about serving these with a barbecue dinner. You know, burgers, brats, ribs, corn on the cob – dinners where everyone is going to be using their hands anyway. Serve with extra napkins, and think about all those dishes you won’t be washing.
A few of them also make a lovely lunch for a solitary cook!
HAND-HELD SHRIMP SALADS
Fills 10 lettuce leaves
- 8 ounces pre-cooked bay shrimp, rinsed, drained, and picked through for any pieces of shell
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 shallot, 1/4″ dice
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 6 basil leaves, shredded
- 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
- Grinds of pepper
- Generous pinch red pepper flakes
- 10 leaves of butter lettuce
- 1/2 tomato, 1/2″ cubes
- 6 additional basil leaves, in thin ribbons for garnish
- Coarse sea salt for garnish
- Add all ingredients, except the lettuce, tomato cubes, final basil ribbons and coarse sea salt for garnishes, to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to blend and break up the shrimp. Don’t purée – you definitely want some texture to remain. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Arrange butter lettuce leaves on a large serving platter. It’s fine if you need to squeeze them together a bit. Place a large tablespoon of shrimp salad in the center of each leaf. If you have some left over, divide it among the leaves. Set a tomato cube in the center of each dollop of shrimp salad.
- Chiffonade 6 basil leaves. “Chiffonade” means ribbon. Remove the stems from your basil leaves. Lay them one on top of the other, matching them up at the stem ends. Beginning at the stems ends, roll the leaves into a tight cylinder, sort of like a tiny cigar. Lay the roll on your board, then slice the leaves the short way into a series of ribbons. Toss them with your fingers to separate them. Garnish the shrimp salads with them. Finally, ganish the salads, especially the lettuce leaves, with some coarse sea salt.