Text Louise Liebenberg
I WAS a bit stuck for a supper dish for Salvelio and myself the other night and with hunger pangs increasing by the minute I dreamed up this unusual salad. Fortuitously enough there were some leftover salad greens from a dinner party the night before, some blanched prawns in the freezer (quick enough to thaw) and cured chorizo imported from Spain in the fridge.
And so I put it all together in a dish that I was mightily chuffed with but which Salvelio the purist thought was a downright weird combination… especially the unorthodox use of that holy grail of the Spanish table, the noble chorizo, in… horrors, a SALAD!
Later, posting the picture on Facebook, I had to chuckle when our South Africans friends said “yeah, awesome dish!” while all those with Iberic DNA raised eyebrows and make observations about “cultural differences”!
It always experimenting in the kitchen and, while some experiments are more successful than others, I enjoyed the flavour combinations of this particular effort. Salvelio (initial revulsion aside) thought the chorizo a bit too overpowering for the salad and so, if you’re likely to make the same judgment, use less chorizo or slice it thinner.
Anyway, here’s how to make my chorizo and prawn salad if you’re feeling adventurous!
For two people, spread a platter with washed, thoroughly drained greens – I used butter lettuce but gem would also be good; top with some rocket, cress and a sprinkling of pretty micro greens (now available at Woolworths, at last!) Season lightly and drizzle with a few drops of red wine vinegar here and there to add a bit of acid. Now add some cucumber (I always remove the skin as I prefer the more delicate colour of peeled cucumber) and a few thin slices of red onion or palest pink shallot.
In the meantime, fry half a chorizo which has been cut into slices in a tiny bit of olive oil till some of the rich flavours are released; remove from the pan and set aside.
Add a bit more olive oil to the pan, fry a nice fat clove of garlic which you have chopped; then add 8 or so thawed, drained and blanched prawns (the ones that are ready peeled and come in a frozen bag from Woolies or Fruit & Veg are fine). Season and sprinkle half a teaspoon of Spanish smoked paprika or pimenton over the prawns before flipping over to cook the other side and stirring all the while so the pimenton is assimilated into the oil (a wooden spoon is best for this). NB: Do not cook the prawns for more than three minutes in total or they WILL become unpleasantly rubbery.
Toss the chorizo through the salad and then add the prawns, including all the bits of sweetened garlic, while also drizzling over the still-hot pimenton oil which you will use instead of an olive oil dressing. Adjust the acid balance by adding a few more drops of red wine vinegar if needed.
Add some fine sprouts and croutons as a final garnish and serve immediately.