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Recipe: Shrimp & Avocado Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

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Although I eat salads year-round, I enjoy them more often when it is hot outside and I want a meal that is both satisfying and refreshing. Salads are one of my favorite things to make because they are quick to prepare and versatile. They can be made with leafy greens, such as lettuce and kale, with potatoes, with cabbage, with pasta, or with rice and grains. If you ever have chicken, pork, or beef left over from dinner the night before, try using it in a salad for a hearty main meal. If you are a vegetarian, beans are an excellent protein substitute. You can even include fruit in a savory salad for a hint of sweetness and to add extra texture, as well as fiber. Fruits such as apples, grapes, strawberries, plums and nectarines can be a very flavorful addition. There is no limit to the versatility of salads!

This avocado and shrimp salad is something I make myself during the summer months when the last thing I want to do is fire up the stove. I love the combination of buttery avocado with shrimp. The lemon vinaigrette is better than any bottled dressing you can buy at the store and very easy to make. I often make a large batch of it and keep it stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator to use on the salads I eat throughout the week. The lemon juice adds a bright, citrus-y flavor and the Dijon mustard adds a bit of tang. It is a wonderfully light and refreshing salad dressing.

The trick to putting a salad together quickly for lunch or dinner is to keep your favorite ingredients stocked in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer so they are at the ready when you want to prepare a meal. When I get home from the grocery store, I wash and spin-dry the lettuce and store it in plastic zip bags in my refrigerator's produce drawer. That way, when I want to assemble a salad, all I have to do is chop the lettuce and toss it into the salad bowl with other ingredients. I always have avocados and cherry tomatoes in bowls on the counter so they are within easy reach. Frozen cooked shrimp are a time-saving ingredient that I keep in the freezer and are not only great in salads, but can also be added to pasta dishes or a stir fry. I also always have canned beans, rice, pasta, and a variety of grains in my pantry.

Once your pantry is stocked with your favorite ingredients, putting together a quick and satisfying salad is only minutes away.

Shrimp & Avocado Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

1/8 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (1 small lemon)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
8-10 frozen cooked shrimp
2 small Haas avocados
Cherry or Grape tomatoes

Directions:

To make the Lemon Vinaigrette:
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk to incorporate all of the ingredients. Set aside.

To Assemble the salad:

Place the frozen shrimp in a bowl filled with cold water and let stand for 5-10 minutes to defrost. Remove the tails and discard them. Strain the shrimp through a colander and pat dry with paper towels. Place the shrimp in the bowl with the lemon vinaigrette and toss gently.

Using a very sharp knife, cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and discard it. Cut the avocado halves into slices (with the skin still on). Once you have cut all of the avocado into slices, peel the skin off of each slice. Arrange the avocado slices on a plate.

Use a slotted spoon to scoop the shrimp out of the vinaigrette and transfer them to the plate with the avocado slices. Arrange the tomatoes on the plate. Drizzle some of the reserved vinaigrette over the shrimp, avocados, and tomatoes and season with additional pepper if desired. Serve immediately.

Flavia Scalzitti is a food blogger based in Houston, Texas. She is originally from Maryland and comes from an Italian family. Flavia grew up around people who used food and cooking as a way to keep their traditions alive, celebrate their Italian culture, express their love for their family, and nourish the people they cooked for with the freshest and best quality ingredients. She is entirely self-taught and is also passionate about baking. In addition to cooking and baking, Flavia enjoys learning about and practicing photography, reading, traveling, practicing yoga, and spending time with her husband, Peter. She blogs at Flavia's Flavors: http://www.flaviasflavors.com

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