Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer Shrimp Salad, Just Like Mom Used to Make

Well, Memorial Day is now in the rear view mirror and the unofficial kickoff to summer has begun. While I'm not looking forward to the heavy humid August air that hangs over Iowa like a wet blanket, I certainly will take the breezy 70s and 80s of June! It's the perfect time of year for dining al fresco. Living back in the city, I am blessed to be surrounded by hundreds of choices for some lovely patio dining. The suburban restaurants, of course, have patios. They have lots of room for building that in when the restaurant is built. Now even the downtown restaurants are setting up patios. Sidewalk patios, or little nooks carved out of alleys and access ways are popping up like mushrooms allover downtown Des Moines.

When I was a little girl, Mom and Dad bought a house. I remember them looking at several houses that I really thought we should live in. Lots of cute two story homes in neighborhoods on the south side of the city. They decided we should live in Thornton Place and found a lovely ranch house, nothing too fancy, just the right amount of room for our family of four. I think the selling feature for my dad was probably the porch. Around the back of the house, just steps out of the kitchen was a screened in back porch easily the size of the living room. Dad loved this porch, and quickly set about decorating it and finding the right furniture. A couch for relaxing, a telephone and television to bring a little of the inside outside and a dining table and chairs filled the back porch and basically became another room of the house. Most nights we had our dinner out there during the summer months. Even if it was a rainy day, if it wasn't a crazy thunderstorm with wind, we could still enjoy the fresh outdoor air. 

Dinners in the summer at our house also meant some of Mom's traditional dinners. One thing she made that we all loved was a big pot of green beans, baby potatoes and ham. She had a German name for it, but I couldn't even begin to spell it, but just for fun, I'll try. Bohnen Gamese. Whatever that means! Because Dad always had a decent garden going, it wasn't uncommon for use to have an all-veggie dinner of sliced tomatoes from the garden, sprinkled with the tiniest bit of sugar, sliced cucumbers with vinegar and oil and a massive pot of hot sweet corn. How I loved those dinners. By far, though, my favorite summer dinner my mom made was her pasta salad with baby shrimp. I have no idea where she learned to make it, but it hands down is my favorite summer salad. She always, and I mean always, used the medium shell pasta. No farfalle, no penne or campanelle. Shells, always. Pasta, a can of baby shrimp (always the canned shrimp too, Mom preferred this over fresh), some chopped vegetables, usually whatever she had in the fridge, always celery and onions, and you might find diced cucumber in the bowl. Diced radishes sometimes. Black olives, always. The simplest of dressings- mayonnaise, not the salad dressing junk, a squeeze of plain yellow mustard and a splash of pickle juice, a little salt and pepper, and that's it. 

Mom's Salad recipe doesn't change much when I make it. I might add a shredded carrot if I have one, or some diced cucumber if I don't have any celery. If my celery has nice leaves, I go ahead and chop those up and throw them in too. Sometimes I swap a can of tuna for the shrimp, because, yes Mom did that too quite a bit. The only "upgrade" I have made to Mom's family favorite is to skip the salt and pepper and use Sinful Food's Signature Seasoning. Best decision ever. It literally has everything in there you could possibly want to season your dish, and then some. Even The Chef remarked how good the salad is with the seasoning.

You can get your Sinful Food Signature Seasoning by clicking HERE.

Mom's Summer Shrimp Salad 

1 pound medium shell shaped pasta
1 can baby shrimp
1/2 cup sliced black olives
2 ribs celery
2 scallions
1/4 cup diced dill pickle
1 cup mayonnaise, plus more
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
splash of pickle juice
Signature Seasoning 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a full rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, drain and rinse with cold water. Add to a big bowl. 

Drain the baby shrimp and add to pasta in the bowl. Drain and add the olives. Finely dice the celery ribs and add to bowl. Slice scallions, and in the bowl they go along with the diced pickles. Sprinkle the fresh dill over and Signature Seasoning, toss, then add mayonnaise and mustard, mixing well. Taste and add additional Signature Seasoning to taste. 

Cover and chill overnight. Stir before serving, adding additional mayo if needed. 

I'm telling you, when I was a kid this was a big time favorite at our house for summer dinners in the screens in porch. The backyard was so shady and cool, the screens kept the bugs out but it still felt like we were eating outdoors. I loved that old porch, and wish I had one where I live right now. Good memories....... 

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