This month my recipe is a fresh and simple summer dish. Everything can be assembled and piled on the grill or, if a grill isn't available, a grill pan will do the trick. This recipe has so many components that appeal to the senses with its array of colorful vegetables, soft feta cheese, pretty green pesto, and pink and white juicy shrimp. The sights and senses are enhanced by the sweet pop of flavor from the grilled summer veggies, the nuttiness and depth from the pesto and the subtle bite from the warm balsamic dressing. I created this recipe about 2 years ago and have pulled it out as a summer staple, whether at home, on the beach, or visiting family, every summer since.
The tomatoes and bell peppers give the salad a burst of vitamin C, while the grilled asparagus and leafy greens give a boost of iron, folate and vitamin K. The pesto contributes healthy fats from the olive oil and nuts that promote healthy cholesterol levels, help the body absorb the vitamins A and K from the dish, and may help fight inflammation. The smooth feta offers a little fat that aids in satiety, a tiny bit of protein and a little calcium. To help refuel tired and worked muscles or to fuel them for a big run or workout the next day, I like to add some hearty whole grain bread to serve on the side. This adds fueling complex carbohydrates to refuel depleted energy stores in the muscle and also keep the body from using the body's protein stores to repair any torn tissues from exercise. It also provides some protein (since it's a whole grain), fiber, and a little magnesium and phosphorus among other nutrients, depending on the exact bread you buy. The combination of tastes, textures and nutrition in this dish makes it a truly fueling and satisfying meal.
So, get out the grill and toss together this grilled veggie and shrimp salad for a light and satisfying summer supper...
Grilled Pesto Garden Salad with Honey Balsamic Shrimp (Serves 2)
- 10 small shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
- About 0.75 pound of asparagus (1/2 a bunch), chopped into 3-inch pieces.
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into large 1 to 1/2 -inch pieces
- 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into large pieces
- 2 cups mixed greens
- 1 1/2 tbsp. jarred pesto
- 2 tbsp. crumbled feta cheese
- 1 loaf whole grain bread
For Shrimp Marinade:
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. honey
- dash of salt
- Whisk together all ingredients for the marinade.
- Add dressing to a bowl or sealable bag with the shrimp and allow to marinate while you prepare the rest of the meal.
- Heat grill or grill pan to medium heat.
- Toss the chopped vegetables with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of pepper.
- Grill the vegetables on the grill until they start to soften and begin to get grill marks.
- Place the grilled veggies in a bowl and gently toss with the pesto. Tent with foil or place in a warm oven to keep warm.
- Remove shrimp from the bowl or bag with marinade and grill about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side.
- Assemble salad by adding 1 cup of mixed greens to base of each plate. Then top with grilled vegetables, 5 shrimp, and 1 tbsp. feta cheese per plate.
- Accompany dish with warm rustic whole grain bread, if desired, and enjoy!