Shrimp Salad Pionono with Calabaza Seed Vinaigrette
This shrimp salad gets its depth from the grilling of the shrimp and toasting of the calabaza, or pumpkin, seeds. This dish has many parts which can be used for other dishes: the pionono shells could contain any salad — or even fresh fruit; the oils and glaze can accent fish or poultry. Everything can be made earlier in the day and assembled at the last minute, a real bonus!
- Cilantro Oil
- Cilantro - 1 bunch
- Vegetable Oil - 1/2 cup
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- Grape seed oil - 1/2 cup
- Annatto (achiote) seeds - 1/4 cup
- Balsamic Glaze
- Balsamic Vinegar - 1 cup
- Sugar - 1/3 cup
- Pionono Shells
- Plantains - 2 large
- Potato - 1/4, peeled
- Oil for frying
- Shrimp Salad
- Cajun-style seasoning - 4 tablespoons
- Raw Shrimp - 18, 16 - 20 count, shelled and deveined
- Frisee Lettuce - 1/2 head
- Assorted Greens - 3 cups
- Calabaza Seed Vinaigrette - 1 cup (recipe follows)
- Plantain Chips - 12, (see Basics)
- Calabaza Seed Vinaigrette (Makes 1 cup)
- Calabaza or Pumpkin Seeds - 2 tablespoons
- Shallot - 1, minced
- Garlic Cloves - 2 large, minced
- Red Onion - 1/4 small, minced
- Cilantro - 2 sprigs, stemmed and minced
- Chives - 8, minced
- Olive Oil - 3/4 cup
- White Vinegar - 1/4 cup
To make the cilantro oil: Finely chop the cilantro, then whisk with the oil, salt, and pepper until blended. Put in a squeeze bottle.
To make the annatto oil: Heat the oil and seeds together in a saucepan over low heat until the oil just begins to bubble, 8 - 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 1 hour. Strain out the seeds and put the oil in a squeeze bottle.
To make the glaze: Mix the vinegar and sugar together in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture is reduced by one fourth. Set aside to cool; place in a squeeze bottle.
To make the shells: Cut the plantain lengthwise in 1/8-inch-thick strips. Cut the potato into matchsticks, 1/8-inch-by-1-inch. Fold a plantain strip into a teardrop shape and pin the ends together with a potato stick; you may need to cut small slits in the plantain strip to let the potato stick pass through. Repeat with the other plantain strips to make 12. Preheat the oil to 350 F in a deep fryer. Fry the plantain circles for 1 to 2 minutes, until crisp. Drain on paper towels, open them out, and set aside.
To make the salad: In a small mixing bowl combine the raw shrimp and cajun-style seasoning. Sear the shrimp in a teflon-lined saute pan until opaque, about 30 seconds per side. Set aside to cool, then chop coarsely. Fill a large mixing bowl with ice water, clean the lettuce, and let the leaves sit in the ice water for 2 minutes, then rinse and drain on paper towels or in a salad spinner.
To serve: Toss the shrimp and greens with the vinaigrette until coated. Place 3 pionono shells on each serving plate, circular parts together, and fill with the salad. Drizzle the oils and glaze around the plates. Garnish with plantain chips.
Calabaza Seed Vinaigrette
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Place all ingredients except the oil in a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk to blend.