While the addition of bread to salads is nothing new, Gerard Craft, the chef-owner of Pastaria in St. Louis, Missouri, moves far beyond the crouton. Instead, Craft studs his warm shrimp salad with hunks of toasted, garlic-rubbed country bread. The generous cuts sop up the lemony dressing, transforming the salad into a meal that stands on its own or serves as a hearty first course. Petite croutons, get ready to bulk up.
Warm Shrimp Salad
Recipe adapted from Gerard Craft, Pastaria, Clayton, MO
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Three ¾-inch-thick slices country bread
1 large garlic clove, halved lengthwise
12 jumbo (11/15 count per pound) shrimp or prawns, shelled and deveined
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
One 15-ounce can cannellini beans
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 green Thai chiles, thinly sliced
3 cups arugula
1. In a grill pan or in a large skillet set over medium-high heat, toast the bread slices until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the bread from the pan and rub each piece with the cut side of the garlic clove.
2. Season the shrimp with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. In a medium skillet set over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook for 45 seconds on the first side, then flip the shrimp and cook until they are pink and just cooked through, about 1 minute more. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice with the remaining ½ cup olive oil. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
4. In a large bowl, toss together the beans, shallots, chiles and arugula. Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and add to the bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes to let the bread cubes soak up some of the dressing. To serve, divide the salad between 4 plates and top each plate with 3 warm shrimp. Serve immediately.