Many years ago when The Man and I first started dating, we bought a funny little cookbook called “Will Cook For Sex: A Guy’s Guide to Cooking” by Rocky Fino. It was an impulse buy. The author just happened to be doing a book signing at the time and we liked his spiel. The recipes are very simple and straight-forward–and as the title suggests, written for a guy who wants to…impress the ladies, if you know what I mean! Now that I think about it, it was the first cookbook purchase of our relationship! We don’t use this cookbook much anymore, mostly because our cooking skills have advanced and we have collected so many other cookbooks throughout the years; but this adapted recipe made its way into our regular rotation and we make it fairly often.
I used pancetta in this salad, because of course, pancetta makes everything taste betta! I know, completely corny, but pancetta just adds so much flavor! Now, if you’re concerned about the added fat and calories, allow me to point out that the dressing is completely fat free! See how that works? I also found some really nice tiger prawns from Costco that were very large, fresh and reasonably priced. They were in the shells, but were already deveined, which made the preparation easy. The original recipe suggested boiling the shrimp, but I find that they are much more flavorful when grilled.
This recipe makes a large dinner salad for two people or an appetizer for four. You’ll need:
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
2.5 to 3 ounces diced pancetta (or two slices of bacon, if you prefer)
1 pound prawns
1 cup small tomatoes, like grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 whole avocado, diced
1 scallion, green tops sliced thin
cilantro leaves for garnish
For the dressing:
1 cup cilantro leaves (about a half bunch), stems removed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
juice of one lime (or more to taste)
honey or agave syrup (optional)
Cook the pancetta on medium high heat in a skillet until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crispy. I initially used 2.5 ounces of diced pancetta, but had to increase the amount because I kept sampling it to make sure it was edible! It’s a tough job, but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t poisonous or anything. Drain the cooked pancetta on a folded paper towel and set aside.
Shell and devein the shrimp (if they aren’t already deveined) and season with salt and pepper and toss with a generous drizzle of canola oil. This will allow the shrimp to cook on the grill without sticking.
Preheat the grill and place a grill pan or a grill topper
on the grates. The grill topper is excellent for grilling smaller items that will slip through the grill grates. There is no need to oil the pan since we oiled the shrimp. When the grill pan/topper is very hot, pour the seasoned shrimp on it. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and opaque. They cook very quickly so be careful not to overcook them. Remove the shrimp from the grill and set aside. Squeezing a little lime juice over the cooked shrimp gives them a very nice flavor.
For the dressing, combine the cilantro leaves, yogurt, lime juice, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. I like to add a small amount of sweetness to the salad dressing just to balance the acidity of the lime juice and yogurt, so I’ll usually add about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of agave syrup to the to mixture. Adjust the seasoning as needed and place in the refrigerator.
I use romaine lettuce for salads with a creamy dressing because the leaves are firm and hold up well. Chop the lettuce, avocado, scallion, tomatoes and cilantro and mix in a large salad bowl.
Add the dressing, shrimp and reserved pancetta to the salad and mix gently using your hands.