An outrageously delicious summertime salad
4 pounds medium shrimp (approximately 30 to the pound), shelled and butterflied
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil plus an additional 1/2 cup olive oil for dressing
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tins flat fillets of anchovies
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup pine nuts
coarse salt to taste
1 cup marinated sun-dried tomatoes, cut into large shreds
1/2 cup capers
1 cup firmly packed, torn fresh basil leaves
1. Toss the shrimp with the salt, all but 1 teaspoon of the minced garlic, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with freshly ground pepper. Let sit for one hour, refrigerated.
2. Prepare the dressing: In the work bowl of a food processor, place the anchovies (including the oil from the tins), and the lemon juice. Purée. With the motor running, slowly drip 1/2 cup olive oil into the food processor, then thin with 2 tablespoons of cold water. You should have a smooth, medium-thin dressing. If it's too thick, add a little more water. Reserve.
3. Toast the pine nuts: Place them on a roasting pan in a single layer, and cook them in a 400 degree oven until they turn golden-brown, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse salt and reserve.
4. Prepare a very hot charcoal fire. When the shrimp are ready to cook, place them on a fine-mesh grill over the coals. Turn them once for even cooking. Remove them as soon as they turn opaque (over a very hot fire, this may take as little as 2 minutes). (Alternatively, you can cook the shrimp under a broiler, turning once.) Keep shrimp at room temperature until ready to assemble salad (up to 1 hour).
5. To assemble: Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Mix well with the remaining teaspoon of minced garlic, the reserved pine nuts, and the reserved anchovy dressing. Toss the mixture with the sun-dried tomatoes, the capers, and the basil. Serve on a large platter or on individual plates.
Note: To serve this dish as a first course, simply correlate your guests' appetites and the amount of shrimp. This party recipe calls for approximately 120 shrimp, but the recipe can be divided in half, thirds, quarters, etc. If you wish to serve first-course portions to 6 guests, and if you wish those portions to have 5 shrimp each (an adequate amount for a light starter), make only a quarter of this recipe. You could serve the salad on a bed of greens.
If you're in the proximity of a grill, a patio, a dozen friends -- and if you're in the mood to reduce your guests' conversation to unintelligible semi-orgasmic murmurs -- look no further than this outrageously delicious summertime salad. Is it ProvenÁal? Ligurian? Californian? Who knows? Geography just doesn't count when food is this good. Serves 24 as a buffet course