Potato Shrimp Salad

After days of scorchers I have finally remembered how to survive high temperatures: turn all fans on. Leave all windows open. Keep water (or better yet, manzanilla) cooling in fridge. Wear practically nothing. Take a bracing shower when all else fails.

Together, Alex and I also remembered why turning on the oven is a bad idea at the height of summer, rediscovered our hatred of actually cooking anything in June, July, and August, and learned that eating a post-dinner Klondike bar in the park across from our apartment is the epitome of that special sultry decadence you can only experience in summer months.

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Last night’s meal reflects both this collected knowledge and my inherent bent towards laziness.  I wanted something light and refreshing and I didn’t want to do any cooking. I had a dream that this dish I wouldn’t have to cook would be some kind of creamy summer potato salad, but I also knew that I wanted some heft.  Enter pre-cooked shrimp from the store.

Ultimately, though I searched high and low for a recipe matching my very particular vision, I had to cobble this one together myself.  Apparently no one else has ever wanted a creamy potato salad with shrimp. Why are there no creamy potato salad with shrimp recipes already out there? I have no idea, because I thought what I made was pretty great. I hope you do, too.

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POTATO SHRIMP SALAD

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1lb pre-cooked shrimp, shelled and pieces cut in half
  • 3 medium-sized yellow potatoes (or any potatoes that will hold their shape after cooking)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • a large handful of dill
  • red onion
  • vinegar – any kind other than balsamic will do, but I used white wine vinegar
  • 4 TBL mayo
  • 4 TBL olive oil
  • 4 TBL lemon juice
  • 2 tsp mustard

The first thing I did, before even boiling my potatoes, was to set my red onions to pickle. To do this, thinly slice red onions and pour vinegar over them until onions are completely covered. I left them to set for as long as it took to prepare the rest of the salad and I let them be the last thing I added to the bowl when I was mixing everything up.

I cooked my potatoes next. I know I said I didn’t feel like cooking anything, but this was so painless.  First, I brought the water to boil in my electric kettle, poured it into my stockpot, and let the pot sit, covered and over high heat, while I diced the potatoes. By the time I was done dicing, the water was roiling and in the pieces went. I checked on them every few minutes by sticking a fork into one of the larger pieces. Once the fork went in easily, I tasted a piece of potato to make sure it had a texture I liked.  I used a slotted spoon to transfer the potato pieces to a strainer and then I submerged the potatoes in cold water for a couple minutes just to make sure they stopped cooking.  When the potatoes were cool I removed them from the water and let them drain while I continued preparing the other salad ingredients.

If you like (and I usually do, because it goes faster), you can prep your shrimp, tomatoes, and cucumber while the potatoes boil. To do this, simply dice the tomatoes and peel, seed, and dice the cucumber. I also chose to cut my shrimp in half because then I had more shrimp bites to go around, but that’s optional, of course. Toss the shrimp and all the veg in the same bowl (use a large one – mine was 7qts) and then finely chop a large handful of dill and toss that in, too.

Next up: mix the dressing. Measure the mayo, olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard into a small jar. Put the lid on and shake the hell out of it.  You could, alternatively, use a small  bowl and a whisk, but I keep a collection of wide mouth jars around specifically for mixing dressings and I recommend you do the same if you make them as often as I do. Anyway, mix the dressing and pour HALF of it into the bowl with the veggies.

Now it’s time to add your cooled, drained potatoes and your pickled red onions. You’ll need to drain and finely chop the onions before adding them – but let me stress that you should reserve the vinegar!  By pickling the onions in it you have created a pink, vaguely onion-flavored new vinegar that you can use normally in other recipes or dressings.

I use my hands to mix the salad because I can both get better dressing coverage that way and make sure I don’t break any of the potato chunks.  Really get in there and fold all the ingredients together.  Since you’ve added only half of your dressing you should feel free to add more to taste – more dressing will make a creamier salad, less dressing will make a drier salad. Both ways taste great. I ended up using probably 3/4 of my dressing in total and felt that amount let me taste the dressing while also not drowning out the other ingredients’ flavors.

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