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01 August 2012

Grilled Shrimp Salad with Fennel & Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Parco degli Acquedotti & Tor Fiscale of Rome

I did turn on the stove for this a few days ago, when the heat was still tolerable.  I had this undying craving for grilled shrimps that my husband had to run to the supermarket a few minutes before closing time to get me some shrimps to cook in time for lunch.   It was a Sunday and the supermarkets in town, the only open shops on Sundays, were getting ready to call it a day.  The seafood section was already closed, and there was a nice lady working at the supermarket who went in to their stockroom, geared up for a trip to the North Pole and searched for a box of frozen shrimps for my husband.  She happily gave him a big box and shared her own opinion on the shrimps.  She herself buys them and loves them.  Her enthusiasm was infectious!

I was really hoping for fresh ones but at mid-day on a Sunday, who am I kidding?  Even the fishermen would cluck their tongues at me.  To be honest, I don't really mind using frozen ingredients at times because they are frozen as soon as they are harvested or caught, sealing their freshness immediately.   Some fresh produce have to travel long distances and are exposed to elements that diminish their freshness quickly. 

If you swore off cooking for a while like me and are looking for ways to nurture yourself (and the family) without turning on the stove, then this is another idea for a fresh dish.  Made up of grilled shrimps on the griddle (Okay, I turned on the stove but just for a few minutes.), fennel, fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest & rucola, and a simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar, you have yourself a healthy and light meal and don't forget - delicious!

We are in the middle of summer and everyone's going away for their holiday getaway.  The city is starting to slow down to its summer pace which I prefer at times.  Going around is more manageable.  And if the heat permits, it's also the time we enjoy acquainting ourselves with the city and its parks. 

Two of my favorite parks in Rome are Parco degli Acquedotti and Parco di Tor Fiscale (in Italian).  Both are full of ancient Roman & papal aqueducts that make biking  or walking around the parks a feast to the eyes. 

In both parks, there are two important aqueducts namely Aqua Felix, finished on 1586 by Pope Sixtus V & Aqua Claudia from the ancient Roman period that was begun by Emperor Caligula in 38 A.D. and finished by Emperor Claudius in 52 A.D.

The two parks are part of the Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica (Appian Way Regional Park) and are close to each other.  From Parco di Tor Fiscale, we biked our way through a grassy field, under the bridge of a railway and crossed a rather fast road for cars.  Parco degli Acquedotti is much bigger at around 15 hectares.  After finding a small olive grove in Parco do Tor Fiscale, my preference to the park became more evident.  It's smaller, has less activities and less people. 

These pictures were from late spring this year, when it was still possible to bike and go on picnics with the right temperature.   As of writing, the intense heat seems to be waning.  I see a hope of taking up a bit of biking again late in the afternoon.  And you already know my destination.  

I hope the heat in your areas are going down too.  With the right diet and activities and drowning ourselves with water, we can go through this unbearable summer heat together.

Enjoy your summer!

Grilled Shrimp Salad with Fennel & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Serves 2
  • 6 - 8 large shrimp
  • Arugula (rocket)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil
  • 12 fresh tomatoes (sweet ones like datterini, cherry or grape), halved
  • 1 fennel bulb, shaved with the use of a mandoline
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  1. Over medium - high heat, place an oven-top griddle or a heavy bottomed saucepan then sprinkle it with salt. Grill the shrimp and brown both sides. Set them aside.
  2. Distribute the arugula on the plate then add the fennel, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes.
  3. Place the grilled shrimp on top then sprinkle with the lemon zest, fennel seeds, salt and pepper.
  4. Dress with the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.