Shrimp Pasta Salad with Arugula and the 3rd Blogiversary

Shrimp Pasta Salad with Arugula

Three years ago I was on the way home from the grocery store when the idea for this blog came to me. I was fed up with trying to make the appropriate “green” food choices for my family. I found the decisions necessary to navigate the green-food world unapproachable, confusing and very expensive. Even with a culinary degree and experience at one of the top food magazines in the country, I felt somehow unqualified to do something as simple as prepare a healthy meal for my Little Guy.

The shiny blogs I followed made it all look easy to live an organic life, recycle everything and feed small children only healthy green foods. But it wasn’t that easy. Here in the Boston area I couldn’t live locally 100% of the time and I didn’t want to either. I had a thumb as black as night and all my attempts at gardening ended in trips to the farmer’s market. Once at the Farmer’s Market the organic produce I frequently spotty, wilted and unappealing and ALWAYS expensive. Every time I gave in and took Little Guy through a fast food drive-thru I was racked with guilt. I wanted to raise a green family, but it wasn’t so easy.  I was annoyed. The blogs had it wrong. It wasn’t so easy being “green”. I started humming Kermit the Frog’s It’s Not Easy Being Green to myself changing the word being to the word eating. By that night my first post was out there. It was terrible. Not a recipe, and not anything worth reading, my first post was nothing more than a rambling list of things I thought my blog would be about and my failed attempt at a meatless meal (using chicken stock in a dish means it isn’t vegetarian).

Here I am three years later. The blog is something I’m proud of. It’s Not Easy Eating Green is about living an authentic life that is centered around good food, family, nutritious food choices and an earth-friendly food chain which is as local as possible. However, this blog is also firmly rooted in the real-world. Little Guy, who was only 2 1/2 when the blog started, is now a very picky eater and a huge fan of chicken nuggets (which still makes me cringe) and there are many nights when I just feed the kids not-perfect meals and get them in bed so Hubby and I can regain a touch of sanity. As a stay-at-home mom, the kids are taking up more of my blogging time than they used to, but that’s not something I regret.

Last year for my blogiversary I reposted my first recipe, Old Bay Steamed Lobster. It is a fantastic recipe and one I still make all the time, but it’s time to move on. In an attempt to meld where I started and where the blog is now, I created this recipe for Shrimp Pasta Salad with Arugula.

The secret to this recipe is something it shares with that first lobster recipe; Old Bay seasoning and shellfish. The shrimp are steamed in a heady broth of beer (or water) and Old Bay and then tossed in a pasta salad with vinegar, olive oil, chives, mustard, capers and more Old Bay. All of that marinates for awhile then gets piled on mound of lightly dressed baby arugula. It’s a very versatile salad. It would be wonderful with olives and tomatoes chopped up and tossed in, with many different vinegars or with all different sorts of salad greens.

It also comes together very easily. I boiled the pasta when I was making dinner for the kids (their dinner was the pasta served with this delicious Vegetable Bolognese from Cooking Light. The twins like the bolognese so much that they pick out the pasta and eat the sauce first!). Before carting the twins off for bathtime and bed I quickly shelled the shrimp and got the salad in the fridge. Then, once peace and quiet returned to the house, Hubby and I could sit down and enjoy our dinner. Because it is just so easy and ever-so-tasty, I know I’ll be making this a lot this summer. Enjoy!

Shrimp Pasta Salad with Arugula

Yield: 4 servings

Shrimp Pasta Salad with Arugula

The flavorful and light summer salad is delicious alone or with a crunchy piece of bread. It is versatile enough that you can use any mild vinegar and add lots of extra veggies such as tomatoes or olives if you want.

4 ounces uncooked corkscrew pasta such as rotini or cavatappi

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

2 tablespoons capers (packed in vinegar not salt), chopped

1/3 cup chopped chives

3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning, divided

1 pound raw shrimp, shell on, completely thawed if frozen

1 cup water or beer

6 cups baby arugula (about 6 ounces)

salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the directions, drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, make the dressing by combining the vinegar, two tablespoons of olive oil, the mustard, capers, chives and 1 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning in a large bowl. Whisk with a fork and toss with the still-warm cooked pasta.

Heat the 1 cup of water or beer along with the remaining two teaspoons of old bay over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan until the liquid comes to a rapid bowl. Add the shrimp with the shells still on. Cover and cook for four minutes stirring once. Remove the shrimp from the heat and drain off the cooking liquid. Allow the shrimp to cool slightly, then peel and discard the shells. Toss the shrimp with the pasta and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to one day ahead of time.

Right before serving toss the baby arugula with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange the arugula on a large platter and pile the shrimp salad on top of the greens. Serve cold.

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2 Responses to Shrimp Pasta Salad with Arugula and the 3rd Blogiversary

  1. Janet Morgan says:

    This is a delicious salad! Since there were just two of us eating it, we were able to enjoy leftovers a couple of times. I’m not an arugula fan so, with apologies to Chef Becky, I substituted butter lettuce for the arugula. It was fabulous. This would be a perfect main dish for a summer luncheon.

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