Melons are fantastic in salads. Their floral aroma and sweet, juicy flesh is delicious with summer vegetables. Use a couple different varieties of melon in one salad for color. Create visual interest by cubing some of the melons, scooping others with a melon baller, and cutting the rest into thin, half-moon slices. My Grilled Shrimp and Melon Salad uses 3 melon varieties grown here in Colorado: French Charentais, Galia, and watermelon. Smoky charred shrimp brings complexity to this sweet and savory salad. For the shrimp I used a technique learned from the A16 cookbook- salting early. Tossing the shrimp with salt an hour before cooking seasons the flesh all the way through and improves texture.
The grilled shrimp, sweet and juicy melons, crisp cucumbers and pickled hearts of palm come together to make a light, refreshing summer salad. Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette provides a spicy kick and gray sea salt makes all the flavors pop.
Prep the shrimp: Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss with two pinches of salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour but no more than 4 hours. After the shrimp are done marinating in the salt, peel and devein them (leave the tails on, if you like). Set the shrimp aside while you prep the vegetables.
Prep the rest of the salad ingredients: Cut up the melons. It’s fun to make a variety of shapes like half-moon slices, cubes, and circles. Go ahead and arrange the melon slices on a platter or 4 plates. Set the melon plates aside. Thinly slice the cucumber into round discs. Place the cucumber slices in a bowl. Toss the cucumbers with a splash of olive oil a pinch of salt. Set the bowl aside. Have your hearts of palm ready. Slice the scallions.
Cook the shrimp: Heat the grill to medium-high. Toss the shrimp with olive oil so they don’t stick to the grill. No need to season, as the salt marinade has already seasoned the shrimp. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook, turning once, for about 4 minutes. The shrimp should be firm and pink when cooked through.
Compose the salad: grab the plates with the melons and scatter over the sliced cucumber, hearts of palm, and scallions. Place the shrimp atop the salad.
Make the vinaigrette: Combine the lime juice into a bowl with the ginger, honey, and salt and pepper. Whisking continuously, pour the olive oil in a steady stream into the bowl until the ingredients have come together. Taste and adjust for the right balance of lime juice, salt, and olive oil.
Pour the vinaigrette over the Grilled Shrimp and Melon Salad. Garnish the salads with torn mint leaves and lime zest. Finish with a sprinkling of gray sea salt. Serve at room temperature.