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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Shrimp salad a fine farewell

Thursday, August 10, 2000

Tested by Rebecca Sodergren

Gary Gates of Shadyside is making his final appearance in the Countdown to Dinner column before he leaves for a new job in Washington, D.C.

With three previous recipes in this column to his credit -- Stuffed Whole Trout, Chicken Dijon, and Balsamic Pork and Apples -- Gates has garnered a reputation among the Food staff for creating quick but upscale-style dishes.

His Shrimp and Potato Salad, a simplified version of a recipe in the "Jacques Pepin's Kitchen: Encore With Claudine" cookbook, fills that bill as well.

To meet the six-ingredient requirement of Countdown recipes, the shrimp can be sauteed in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, but Gates recommends using 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter, noting that the shrimp has more of a lobster-like flavor when butter is used.

We tried the butter version, and we also took his other suggestion -- tossing a fresh herb into the pan with the shrimp (in our case, it was tarragon). Tasty.

Our only problem was that, due to lack of experience, we took too long to clean the shrimp. The dish took us about 35 minutes to prepare -- but if you're an old pro at cleaning shrimp, you'll have no problem finishing in a half-hour.

Gates, a Johnstown native, will work in the District of Columbia for the Urban Institute, a public policy think tank, doing research on public health policy. He earned his doctorate in public policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

We at Countdown to Dinner are sorry to see him take his recipe file out of town.

Shrimp and Potato Salad

1 bag mixed salad greens
1 pound extra large shrimp
4 medium red or Yukon gold potatoes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil OR 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Quarter the potatoes and steam until tender (about 15 minutes).

Place salad greens in a large bowl.

Clean and cut shrimp into bite-size pieces (thirds work well for 20 count shrimp).

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, 3/4 cup of olive oil, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour about 3/4 of the dressing over the greens and toss.

When potatoes are done, place in another bowl, add the remaining dressing and toss lightly, taking care to not crush them.

Heat the butter and remaining tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and add the shrimp. Salt and pepper to taste. Saute about 5 minutes until cooked through.

Divide the greens into four portions. Put 4 potato quarters and a serving of the shrimp on top of each portion; serve.

Modifications: Add a generous portion of your favorite fresh herb to the salad dressing and/or the sauteed shrimp. Gates has used basil, thyme and tarragon.

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