Taste memory. It’s a thing, I swear. I’m sure you’ve experienced it before. One taste of a particular dish and it brings you right back to a certain place and time. It’s like scent or song memory. You smell a fresh pumpkin pie and are suddenly taken back to your grandparents’ kitchen over the holidays, or you hear that Boyz II Men slow jam that brings you back to your first junior high school dance. It’s funny how these things have such an impact on us, and can affect us so deeply no matter how many years down the road that memory is reignited. Taste is no exception.
Being a foodie, I have pretty acute taste memory. If I taste something unforgettable, you bet I’m going to remember where I was and what I was doing when I tasted it. This Mango Shrimp Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette is a case in point. About 6 years ago, when I was in the transition of moving back to the mainland from Hawaii and doing a bit of a 180 on my chosen career path, my dad and I decided to take a father-daughter trip to France. I was earnestly studying for my sommelier exam and we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to immerse myself in one of the most historic wine-producing countries in the world.
The trip was amazing. My dad hired a British driver to take us around to some of the best wine-producing regions, and we got to experience not only the “big name” wineries but also the smaller tasting rooms (literally, tasting in the basement of one winemaker’s house or sitting in the backyard of another’s with a few bottles of wine and a single, delicious wheel of soft, pungent cheese.)
Probably the most memorable area we visited was Pouilly-Fuisse. We stayed at the cutest little bed-and-breakfast, La Bergerie de Fuisse, where the “house chickens” literally laid the eggs we would enjoy for breakfast on that very morning. The owner was the most genuine hostess and we have been trying to plot a trip back to see her ever since we left.
Just outside of Pouilly-Fuisse was a small town called Salutre. This small town did not have much, but it did have one restaurant, high on a hilltop, that we made the short drive to for dinner. This here “only restaurant in Salutre” is where we enjoyed one of THE best salads we had ever had. I know, who gets excited about salad? But that’s what makes this so special. It is a salad. And it is unforgettable. The simplicity of this Mango Shrimp Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette is astounding for how good it tastes.
On a bed of mixed greens we have some deliciously seasoned shrimp, fresh sliced mango and toasted macadamia nuts (among just a few other things), all lightly tossed in a light champagne vinaigrette. That’s it! Pretty simple, right?
This Mango Shrimp Salad is the epitome of how JUST enough of the right flavors can make something truly amazing. The dish is light and tropical from the mango and macadamia nuts, yet the champagne vinaigrette gives it a refreshing richness that lends it well to white wine, and especially Chardonnay, which is the only grape approved for the Pouilly-Fuisse appellation. It’s light enough to be served as an appetizer, but also perfectly suitable as a meal. I’m immediately drawn to the thought of it being served as an easy, spring or summer-time dinner served with a crunchy French baguette and some stinky cheese. Or maybe I’m really just envisioning myself back in Pouilly-Fuisse? I certainly wouldn’t object.
- 24 medium shrimp peeled and deveined
- Salt & pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Juice of ¼ of a lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup champagne vinegar or white balsamic vinegar would work too
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 8-10 cups mixed greens such as arugula, Romaine, chard, mizuna, radicchio & spinach
- 4 mangoes peeled and sliced
- 1 cup raw macadamia nuts toasted
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- ¼ cup fresh chives chopped
- Microgreens to garnish
- Season shrimp with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and lemon juice.
In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil. Once oil is warm, add shrimp and cook until done, about 3-5 minutes each side.
- Remove shrimp from heat and set aside to cool. Once shrimp has cooled slightly, place in refrigerator to finish cooling to serve on the salad.
- Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a Mason jar. Shake to combine.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss mixed greens with prepared vinaigrette. Divide greens up amongst four salad bowls. Top with mango, tomatoes, macadamia nuts, chives, shrimp and microgreens.
- Serve immediately.
Wine Pairing Notes: Naturally, this dish lends well to a more acidic, earthy Chardonnay such as those from Pouilly-Fuisse. It would also pair fabulously with sparkling wine or a heavier, California Sauvignon Blanc.
Please take me back!