With winter fruits (kumquats and pomegranate arils), roasted sweet potatoes, pistachios, and feta, this Blackened Shrimp Salad is a healthy, hearty main dish salad sure to liven up your New Years "resolutionary" menus! A brilliant pomegranate and blood orange vinaigrette provides the perfect finish, and you can have it on your table in about 30 minutes!
And, of course, the funniest food of all, kumquats.~~ George Carlin.
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - What is a Kumquat?
Living in McAllen, Texas, my access to fresh, seasonal produce and high quality seafood is vast. In December, we start seeing pomegranates and cara cara oranges, and January brings kumquats and blood oranges. I love it!
After several weeks of holiday and comfort food, are you ready for lighter fare? I am! While main dish salads are not the norm during winter months, they're a great way to enjoy winter produce. Arugula is a winter crop in the southern United States, and I love its peppery bite.
So here we are halfway through January as I type, and I'm craving this salad. Of course I live in year 'round summer land, so I'm happy to eat a substantial salad January through December!
🍊 All About Kumquats
How does one describe a kumquat? Growing up in Southern California, we had a kumquat tree in our backyard. I always described them as tiny, inside-out oranges. 😂 It's the skin that holds the sweetness, while the juicy flesh holds the pucker power.
As an adult, I can provide a more sophisticated description: Kumquats are grape-sized citrus fruits that fill your mouth with a big burst of sweet-tart flavor. In contrast with other citrus fruits, the peel is sweet and edible. Pop a whole one in your mouth, and enjoy!
Are kumquats healthy?
YES! These little fruits pack a big nutritional punch. From Healthline.com:
Kumquats are especially notable for their rich supply of vitamin C and fiber. In fact, you get more fiber in a serving of them than most other fresh fruits.
A 100-gram serving (about 5 whole kumquats) contains (2):
- Calories: 71
- Carbs: 16 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Fiber: 6.5 grams
- Vitamin A: 6% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 73% of the RDI
- Calcium: 6% of the RDI
- Manganese: 7% of the RDI
Kumquats also supply smaller amounts of several B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. The edible seeds and the peel of kumquats provide a small amount of omega-3 fats.
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- blackened shrimp spice blend - My Mexican spice blend is perfect for this recipe! I make a jar full of this mole-inspired spice blend for my roasted chicken, chili, and lamb tacos. It's a combination of cocoa, cumin, ancho, and cinnamon. I'll include amounts for a single recipe. You can substitute a lemon pepper spice blend or Cajun spice blend if you prefer!
- shrimp - I'm partial to Gulf shrimp because I live on the Gulf and they're wild-caught. Avoid farm-raised shrimp from unknown waters! I prefer large shrimp (16 to 20 count).
- arugula - Spinach or baby kale are good substitutes, but I love the peppery bite of the arugula.
- kumquats - You can substitute other citrus.
- pomegranate arils
- feta cheese - I often use crumbled cotija.
- pistachios - Toasted pepitas make a great substitute.
- pomegranate and blood orange vinaigrette - I rarely use a commercial salad dressing. This pomegranate and blood orange vinaigrette is free of additives and preservatives, and is as fresh as the salad! I'll be posting a stand alone recipe soon, but it requires blood orange juice, pomegranate molasses, white wine vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, garlic, and agave nectar. You can substitute a raspberry or citrus vinaigrette if necessary.
- Roast the sweet potatoes - Preheat oven to 400°. Toss diced sweet potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet. Roast until tender with some caramelized edges.
- Prepare the shrimp - To a zip bag, add the spice, salt, and peeled and deveined shrimp. Shake to coat the shrimp. Set aside.
3. Make the vinaigrette - Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Set aside.
4. Prep all the salad ingredients - Slice the kumquats, prep the pomegranate arils, crumble the feta, shell the pistachios if necessary,
5. Blacken the shrimp - Using tongs, add the shrimp to a very hot skillet brushed with oil. Cook until dark brown (not black) about 1-2 minutes. Turn. Cook on the second side. Remove, and set aside.
6. Finish the salad - Arrange the arugula on a platter or in separate salad bowls. Top with the blackened shrimp, sliced kumquats, pomegranate arils, roasted sweet potatoes, pistachios, and feta. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Enjoy!
I love my cast iron skillet when blackening food. The heat is evenly distributed, and provides a good sear.
Be diligent when cooking shrimp. DO NOT OVERCOOK. They require only 1-2 minutes per side! You don't want rubbery shrimp!
How long can I keep leftover vinaigrette? The recipe makes about a cup. If serving only 2, you'll have quite a bit remaining. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Cotija and goat cheese are good substitutes for the feta.
Pepitas and almonds are good substitutes for the pistachios, but the pistachios rock.
I hope 2021 is off to a healthy and happy start! Adding this main dish salad with kumquats is a step in the right direction... Stay safe, exercise, and practice self-care!