Sunday, October 07, 2012

Back When We Were Grown-Ups

Many years ago, I met a friend for lunch. That sounds like a simple thing, but she and I lived almost 3 hours apart. While she returned to my hometown regularly, I didn't have the opportunity to travel in her direction very often.

On this particular instance, I found myself attending a training session in a town very near hers. Plans were made, and after I picked her up at her workplace, she directed me to a favorite lunch spot. There, I relied on her recommendation of seafood pasta salad loaded with vegetables for our light, but filling lunch.

That day, I felt like a grown-up for one of the first times. At the time, I held a successful full-time job, had car payments and a mortgage, and along with my husband, was on the fast track to take over financial responsibility for his parents' farm. Certainly, all of those things should have made me feel mature, but I often felt like I was just pretending. Each day was a dress up game of trying to not let anyone in on the fact that I was just a scared kid.

I don't remember what we chatted about as I sat across from my friend and lunched on a fresh and lovely salad. I don't even remember the salad exactly. I just know that I felt mature, content, happy, and confident.

These days, I seem to alternate between being a grown-up, playing one, and wondering what old person has taken over my mind and body. It is a crazy balance of knowing what I should do, wondering how to do it, and not wanting to do it at all. However, I am not too concerned. I think that all of us pretty much feel this way most of the time.

I decided to try to play grown-up this summer and put together my own version of a Grilled Chipotle Shrimp Salad. The one thing that I found distinctive about that long ago salad was the inclusion of lettuce with the pasta. That combination was new to me, and I really liked the crisp contrast. I have swapped the ranch dressing for a more sophisticated chipotle and lime, but kept lots of veggies to keep it all light. It is a perfect salad to reminisce on back when we were grown-ups.

(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup celery, chopped
4 tablespoons red onion, chopped
1/4 cup radishes, sliced paper thin
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups cooked pasta
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
Combine the salt, pepper, chile powder, and garlic powder in a bowl and toss the shrimp to coat.
Brush the grill with olive oil and cook the shrimp for 2 minutes on each side, or until done.
Set cooked shrimp aside to cool while prepping other ingredients.
Whisk mayonnaise, chipotle, lime juice, and cumin in a bowl and set aside for flavors to meld.
Toss celery, onion, radishes, cilantro, cooked pasta, and lettuce together.
Add shrimp.
Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. (Serves 4.)

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