My friend Virginia Willis studied at La Varenne and did a stint as the director of Martha Stewart's TV kitchen, but she has never forgotten her Southern roots. Her second cookbook, Basic to Brilliant, Y'all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company, has plenty of simple-to-make but deeply flavorful recipes perfect for summer, including the Warm Summer Shrimp Salad above. I love how Virginia layers and intensifies flavors: fresh corn is cooked in a quick stock made from the shrimp shells; there's lemon zest and lemon juice and more juice in the homemade mayo dressing. I'll be honestâ€”I made this because I thought it would look pretty on the fabulous new marbleized Astier de Villatte plates, above, from Ann Koerner Antiques, but now I'm adding the recipe to my summer entertaing staples. It's perfect with a citrusy Pinot Blanc (like the 2010 from Michaud Vineyard) or a rosÃ© (try the Bastianich Refosco Rosato from A Wine for All), along with a berry cobbler for dessert.
This won't be the last time Fetch Table features the talented Virginia, but in the meantime, you can order her book from Books & Books on Taigan.
Warm Summer Shrimp Salad
Adapted from Basic to Brilliant, Y'all by Virginia Willis
Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
2 tablespoons coarse salt, plus more to season
Freshly ground white pepper
4 cups water
Scraped kernels from 6 ears fresh sweet corn
1 tablespoon corn oil
2 to 3 medium to large tomatoes, preferably heirloom, cored and chopped
2 lemons (finely grated zest and juice of 1, and 1 quartered)
¼ cup mayonnaise, or to taste
1 small bunch basic leaves, chopped
Place the shrimp in a bowl. Rub and toss with 1 tablespoon of the coarse salt. Rinse under cold running water. Repeat the process, drain in a colander and pat dry with paper towels. Season the shrimp generously with white pepper and set aside.
Combine the shrimp shells and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease to a simmer and let cook until shells are pink and the broth is fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes. Strain, reserving broth, and wipe the pan clean.
Return the strained broth to the saucepan. Add the corn and season with salt and white pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to a simmer and cook until corn is tender, about 3 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve. Place corn in a medium bowl and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp and cook until pink and opaque, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the shrimp and the chopped tomatoes to the corn. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, mayonnaise and basil. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Divide among plates and garnish with a wedge of lemon. Serve immediately, garnished if desired with a handful of microgreens or arugula.