I attended a Mother’s Day luncheon on Saturday where we were served a delicious cold shrimp salad. The flavors brought back memories of my grandmother and aunt in Tupelo, Mississippi. My mother grew up in Tupelo, but married a Yankee from Vermont, so we were raised in the Green Mountain State. Every other year our family of six would pile into our 4-door sedan for the long drive to Tupelo, which would take several days. We would leave our Vermont home on a gravel road during the winter to spend a week or more with our grandmother in the warm sunshine of a Mississippi town with paved sidewalks.
During our time there we had a chance to roller skate on the sidewalks of her beautiful tree-lined street, and visit family friends and relatives of my mother. I can vividly remember one lady named “Miss Susie” who would invite us for lunch and serve cold salads, pimiento-cheese sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and lovely tuna-stuffed tomatoes. For four children who were used to running through fields and woods, it was something special to get dressed up for a luncheon with china and cloth napkins!
When I tasted that cold shrimp salad, all those memories came rushing back. I realized that my own children have never visited Tupelo, Mississippi, and I can’t recall ever making shrimp salad for them either. They love shrimp, but we usually enjoy it hot with pasta or rice.
Yesterday we decided to celebrate Mother’s Day here at the ranch, rather than eating out in a restaurant. I wanted to recreate that delicious shrimp salad for the family and spent part of the afternoon with my youngest daughter preparing the salad. I found two kinds of frozen shrimp at Trader Joe’s. One was uncooked wild Argentinian red shrimp, which I defrosted and boiled quickly with lemon and salt. The other was fully cooked tail-on shrimp, so we defrosted them and removed the tails. I would have bought more of the Argentinian red shrimp, but Trader Joe’s didn’t have any more in stock. They explained that these shrimp are very special and available only during a certain window of time each year. They were expecting more in the store today, so I plan to stock up! The whole family agreed that the flavor of the shrimp cooked in our own kitchen was far more delicious than the frozen ones.
Here is the recipe we used, inspired by Ina Garten’s Shrimp Salad recipe.
2 tablespoons salt
1 lemon cut into quarters
2 bags of Trader Joe’s frozen uncooked wild Argentinian red shrimp
2 bags of Trader Joe’s frozen fully cooked jumbo shrimp, tails-on
1 1/2 cups Best Foods Lite mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Gourmet Garden fresh dill (which I keep in my freezer)
1 cup minced sweet onion
2 cups minced celery
Bring 3 quarts of water, 2 tablespoons salt, and the lemon to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the defrosted wild Argentinian shrimp to the boiling water, and cook for 3-4 minutes until just done. Remove with a slotted spoon and put immediately into ice water. Defrost the fully cooked shrimp by following the directions on the package and remove the shells from the tails.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, pepper, and dill. Combine with the shrimp. Add the sweet onion and celery. and taste to make sure the seasonings are to your liking. (I don’t add extra salt because the mayonnaise is salty enough.) Cover and refrigerate for a few hours. Serve on a bed of greens and top with sliced California avocado.