pan-fried tiger prawns over spring pea and asparagus salad

One of my favorite kitchen items is our cast iron skillet. We purchased a very well-reviewed but basic pre-seasoned skillet on Amazon. I did a bunch of reading about how to clean it (never with soap) and how to keep it well seasoned (after use, rinse with water, scrub with sea salt, and wipe with some olive oil). It has amazing resilience and keeps getting better as we use it more! In this dish, I use the cast iron skillet for cooking up the bacon bits for the spring pea and asparagus salad, and then leave the bacon grease in the skillet for cooking the tiger prawns. The dish as a whole is light yet creamy and satisfying, with just the right amount of salt and fat from the bacon and two types of cheese. I'd recommend pairing this dish with a bright Sauvignon Blanc or rose.

 

  • Fresh, uncooked tiger prawns, shell on (approximately 1 pound)

  • Bacon (4-5 strips)

  • Fresh asparagus (1 bunch, cut into 1 and 1/2 inch pieces; ends removed)

  • Green petite peas (1 cup, frozen)

  • Feta cheese (1/2 cup, crumbled)

  • Fresh mint (1/2 cup, cut into thin ribbons)

  • Olive oil (2 tablespoons)

  • Lemon juice (1 and 1/2 teaspoons)

  • Champagne vinegar (2 teaspoons)

  • Salt (2 teaspoons)

  • Ground black pepper (1 teaspoon)

  • Ricotta (3 tablespoons)

 

  1. On a cutting board, chop the bacon strips into small pieces.

  2. In a cast iron skillet, cook the bacon pieces until just browned and crispy. Remove from the skillet and set aside to cool on a plate lined with paper towel to catch the excess fat.

  3. On the stove, boil 2 cups of water in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the asparagus pieces and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until bright green and cooked through.

  4. Quickly remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon from the boiling water and drain, rinsing with cold water to blanche and stop the cooking process. Set asparagus aside in a mixing bowl.

  5. In the same boiling water on the stove, add the frozen peas to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, or until cooked throuh. Drain the peas into a colander and rinse with cold water. Add the peas to the same mixing bowl with the asparagus.

  6. Add the crumbled feta cheese, fresh mint, olive oil, lemon juice, champagne vinegar, salt and pepper to the mixing bowl and toss the salad gently until all the ingredients are evenly coated.

  7. Unwrap the tiger shrimp. Remove each tail, then the outer hard shell. Using a small paring knife, slice down the spine of each shrimp and remove the vein. Complete this cleaning for all shrimp.

  8. Reheat the cast iron skillet on the stove, with the excess bacon grease. Add half the shrimp (do not crowd in the pan).

  9. Cook shrimp on each side for 3 minutes, or until cooked and opaque. Remove to a plate to cool. Repeat cooking process for second half of the shrimp.

  10. To plate, put the salad on a serving platter and top with the cooked shrimp.

  11. Add tablespoons of ricotta on top and drizzle with extra olive oil, salt and pepper, and additional mint for garnish.

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