By Clay Purdy
This combination never fails to please on a warm summer evening. And we’ve sure had many of those.
It includes one of my favorites from Marcella Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cookbook, which I’ve modified slightly for grilling. The shrimp achieve a delicate balance of flavors with a juicy texture married with a slight crunch of bread crumbs. Be sure to start with good fresh shrimp (not frozen!). The success of the dish depends on how you apply the coating of oil and breadcrumbs. There must be just enough oil to coat the shrimp, but not so much as to drench them. There must be enough bread crumbs to retain the oil and to form a light coating, but not so much as to bury them. You’ll get the hang of it.
It pairs beautifully with a chickpea salad, courtesy of The New York Times and grilled veggies.
To kick things off I suggest a Planter’s Punch. There are a lot of recipe variations for Planter’s Punch, but I like this one because it’s not too sweet and very refreshing.
2 ounces dark rum
½ ounce fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon simple syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
Soda water, to top
Pineapple slice for garnish
Fill a shaker with ice and add rum, lime juice, simple syrup and bitters. Shake; strain over fresh ice into a highball glass. Top with soda water and garnish with a pineapple slice.
2 pounds raw shrimp
3-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup fine, dry unflavored bread crumbs
1 clove very finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, 5 or 6 twists of the mill
1. Shell and devein the shrimp. Wash in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Put the shrimp in a large mixing bowl. Mix the oils in equal parts and add to the shrimp. Mix thoroughly. Add as much of the bread crumbs as you need to obtain an even, light, creamy coating on all the shrimp. Do not add it all at once because it may not be necessary. When the shrimp are well coated, add the chopped garlic, parsley, salt and pepper and mix well. Allow the shrimp to steep in the marinade for at least 20 minutes at room temperature.
3. Preheat the grill. You want it hot.
4. Have ready some flat, double-edged skewers. Skewer the shrimp lengthwise through the head and tail portions.
5. The shrimp require brisk, rapid cooking. When your fire is quite hot, cook the shrimp no more than three minutes on each side. Each side is done when a crisp, golden crust has formed.
6. Serve hot, on or off the skewers with lemon wedges on the side.
Chickpea Salad with Fresh Herbs and Scallions
½ cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus more for serving
3 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup finely diced celery (about 3 stalks)
½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts (2 to 3 scallions)
1. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth, then add the dill and parsley and stir to combine. Set aside.
2. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and using a fork, lightly mash about 1/3 of them. Add the celery and scallions and toss.
3. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss well, and set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with more dill and parsley and serve. (If you’re not serving the dish immediately, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to two days. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.)
Clay Purdy is the president of Canteen Co, a life-long advertising executive and a writer who loves to dabble in the kitchen making everything from pizza to osso bucco.