Grilled Shrimp and Watermelon Greek Salad

It’s starting to get really hot over here in Los Angeles. Well in all honesty it’s been hot for a while now, but I’m just barely starting to notice it. The last thing anyone should be doing during this time of year is cooking in a hot kitchen for hours and hours. That sounds like torture. So to make things a little bit easier for us, I’m throwing this refreshing summer salad right at your face. Minus the standing over a hot grill/grill pan part, this is actually a quick and easy recipe that you can have ready in no time at all. The kind of recipe we need during the week. Sure, I have you grilling a few things along the way, so okay maybe we’re not avoiding the heat like I mentioned earlier BUT in my defense, the grilling part is super quick and the flavor you get from it is incredible, so it’s totally worth it. We can suffer for a few minutes all for the sake of food, right? Right. 

Have you ever had watermelon, mint and feta together? The combination is out of this world delicious. The kind of thing that upon first hearing about, you’re skeptical, because it sounds super suspicious so you eat it with caution, but three bites in and you’re hooked. It’ll be the best thing you’ll taste all summer trust me. When you throw grilled shrimp into the mix, all bets are off. Go home because this salad has just won at life. It was inspired by a salad I just recently tried at a restaurant. I won’t mention the name of it because it’s the type of establishment you’re embarrassed to admit you’ve eaten at. We don’t need to dwell on that piece of information though, let’s move on. Anyhow, the salad had mixed baby greens, watermelon, feta and a mint honey vinaigrette and it was everything I never knew I wanted. The watermelon was really refreshing because it was super cold and added a great texture to the salad, along with the salty bits of feta throughout. I know I’m going on and on about this salad (we get it Jonathan), but I was pleasantly surprised. So I decided to go home and give it a go and try to make it myself like the restaurant’s version, but completely different and nothing like the original.

Changing topics now, Julian and I are going to an event at La Brea Bakery tomorrow at their flagship store here in Los Angeles, which is La Brea Bakery’s hometown and it just so happens to be Julian and I’s hometown so it’s kind of meant to be. In honor of their Breaking Bread Tour (a bread truck going across country handing out free bread to people, dreams people dreams) which launches on Wednesday at the store, and in honor of summer I thought it would be the best idea I’ve ever had to come up with a recipe that goes well with grilled bread. Plus something about bread and salad together just makes me really happy. I can’t do fully healthy because then I feel like I’m not living my life to it’s fullest so I find myself getting a salad with a side of fries or salad with lots of croutons. That kind of thing because it just feels like the perfect balance. In this case, I’m using their organic wheat loaf which is the bee’s knees, if bees had knees. This isn’t a sponsored post or anything, I just really happen to love La Brea Bakery. I didn’t think it was possible but Julian probably loves it even more than I do, so I guess it’s a match made in heaven. The two of us around all of that bread, getting to learn about all of the behind the scenes and history of the Bakery, sounds pretty dangerous. We’ll probably clean out the place, watch out. To find out more about the Breaking Bread Tour and to follow the truck around to see if it’ll reach your city, check the site out here. (Again, not a sponsorship, just love bread. Can you blame me?!)

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Cucumber and Strawberry Salad

I used to frown upon salads with fruit on them. It always seemed so weird to me. “Why are there strawberry slices in my salad?” Then I’d proceed to flip the table over and throw the salad across the room. I’m not one for mixing sweet and savory into one dish. With a few exceptions of course, like fried chicken and waffles with maple syrup and honey drizzled all up on it. I’ll never say no to that. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would. I’m not (that) crazy. For the most part, though, I like to keep certain things separate on my plate. My pancakes have to be on another dish completely, far away from my eggs and potatoes and bacon. I’ve recently had a change of heart on the entire matter, and I now have a new found appreciation for sweet fruit on a savory salad. I can’t get enough of it, actually. I guess it helps to keep an open mind to new things we’re not completely used to. Now I’m trying to get you all hooked on it. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot from the error of my ways and I’m ready to eat all of the fruit studded salad in the world. The world I tell you. THE WORLD. 

This is the second recipe in our mega Easter Brunch Bonanza celebration. It’s the perfect side dish for our Spring time meal to celebrate one of my favorite holidays. Just in case you’ve missed yesterday’s post, here’s a link to the Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto Croissants. It’s another easy dish that you can whip up with no effort at all, taking some help from the store. I’m also going to remind you to come back each day for the rest of the week for the remaining recipes, there are three left and they’re only going to get better and better. I promise. Cross my heart and kiss my elbow. Just as a hint between you and I, Friday’s recipe is my absolute favorite. Oh, I’ve also been updating the main Easter Brunch post on the home page with the links to each individual recipe so that you guys can have one central location for the entire brunch menu. I think it makes it easier on us all. That one post will continue to live on the home page, front and center, so we can find all the recipes without hassle. Enough about all this business talk though. Let’s get to salad making and eating.

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Paella Pasta Salad

I’ve always wanted to make a paella for the site. It’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while now. I’m a sucker for rice, in any shape or form. In any recipe, really. My motto is, the more rice the better. Serve it to me every single day for the rest of my life and I’ll be happy as a clam (pun intended). I began brainstorming recipe ideas this past week and for some reason paella kept popping up in my head. Perhaps it was a sign pointing me to make paella, because the time had come for me to finally make this recipe happen. It could’ve been a sign, but really if I’m being honest, it was my stomach doing all of the thinking because I really just wanted an excuse to eat paella this week. Go figure. Anyhow, there I was brainstorming when it hits me, “Jonathan! You should make a paella but create it with a twist because there are a million paella recipes already out there!” Just like that, that’s how it happened. Word for word, and I know what you’re thinking, yes I do talk to myself in first person. It’s what I do. 

Aside from talking to myself, I’d also like to point out the fact that it’s currently the third of November. The THIRD of NOVEMBER people!!! Where did the end of October go? This whole time change thing over the weekend has got me all sorts of confused. Sure it’s just one hour of a difference, but still, my mind is taking a bit longer to adjust. I don’t know what is what anymore. The only thing I am sure of is the fact that it’s finally getting chilly here in Los Angeles and all that means is that I get to eat more comfort foods that warm me up inside. Pasta is my favorite comfort food of all. Especially hot pasta baked with lots of cheese. Yes, I’m referring to mac and cheese. Why didn’t you just say that Jonathan?!!? What can I say, I like to be cryptic sometimes. 

Okay so this paella pasta salad isn’t served hot and yes I know there’s no cheese involved, so what’s so comforting about it? It’s no mac and cheese, that’s for sure. Well, it is a pasta dish loaded with all of the meats and all of the seafoods. What’s not comforting about that?!?! You tell me! What isn’t comforting about that, huh? Huh? Well? What have you got to say for yourself? This recipe is comforting because it’s pasta mixed with sausage, ham, chicken, shrimp, mussels and clams! It’s so filling that it should be illegal, but not really because I’d really like to eat this until the end of time, and I think you should too. 

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Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Let’s just face the cold hard facts. Sometimes it’s way too hot to get in the kitchen and rattle them pots and pans (sorry Bill Haley) over the fire or heaven forbid, turning on the oven. Talk about torture. On those days I just don’t eat. No I’m kidding (mamma, of course I eat). On those days I actually try not to cook. I guess I should say I don’t like to make extravagant meals, slaving away in the kitchen for hours on end, because I actually do cook, they’re just super fast dishes with minimal actual “cooking” involved. Not to mention, who wants to eat a hot meal when it’s deplorably hot outside as well? I don’t folks, I don’t. That’s when these easy and refreshing meals come into the picture. Recipes that cool me down without making me spend too much time in the heat of the kitchen. Recipes that are super easy to put together, and utilize ingredients I already have on hand in the fridge or pantry because the last thing I need is to have to go to the market to buy ingredients for dinner. Is it too much to ask for to have such recipes at my disposal? No, not really. That’s totally reasonable. Yes I just answered my own question and no I’m not ashamed of it. Welcome to the inside of my head ladies and gentleman.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact that I’ve put up a healthy recipe on here. High-fives and pats on the back are totally appreciated. I’ll even accept some A-OK’s and thumbs up. I mean I deserve brownie points for such a feat. Cue the flying pigs. Start the freezing over of hell. For the greater part, most of my recipes are rich desserts that are full of butter and sugar and chocolate and you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what breakfasts of champions are made of. I just don’t want you guys to think that’s all I bake and cook and eat so I thought I’d show some variety with this dish, which I happen to make at home all the time. It’s a hit. Just ask my family, they’d tell you, “It’s a hit!” I may or may not have paid them to say that, no big deal. So why not let it be a hit at your house too? You can even take all the credit, go ahead I’m giving you permission. When someone asks you how’d you come up with such a delicious recipe you can say you made it up. “I don’t know how I come up with such things. I surprise myself sometimes. I guess I’m a genius.” Look at that, I’m even telling you what to say. Free of charge. You can pay me by making the recipe and trying it out for yourself. And if you want to invite me over to help you eat it, well I won’t complain.

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Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad

I have a certain friend who is a fan of The Technicolor Kitchen, and he often shares with me his opinion and gives me his approval rating of the recipes. I call him The Canadian, for obvious reasons, but I originally did it because when I looked onto my phone to add him, I already had multiple friends by that name. So I saved myself the trouble and nicknamed him “Canadian” on my contacts. We’ll refer to him as such, to protect his identity.

Well back to my story, The Canadian, unfortunately is a vegetarian, I know, CRAZY!!! What kind of lifestyle is that?!?! No, I’m kidding! I completely respect his decision and understand him.  Since most of my entree recipes have had meat and/or pork in them, even my potato salad had bacon, so I’ve decided to post a couple of vegetarian recipes for him.

So here it is, a super easy Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad (say that five times fast:  Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad, Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad, Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad, Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad, Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad) that is loaded with flavor. In developing this recipe for him and the next one coming up, I asked him if he liked pesto, his response; “Love It.” Well there you have it, this recipe is Approved by The Canadian, can’t get any better than that.

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