Serving this salad in little avocado boats adds a little bit of festive to a summer dinner.
When I was growing up, I doubt I ever saw an avocado. Now, there’s hardly a day when I don’t find one on my plate in some form from breakfast to party appetizer. They are everywhere!
My mother-in-law Pat loved to serve anything stuffed, and she had a dish of artichokes that I can still taste to this day. It was filled with everything one could possibly want in a seafood salad –– crab, shrimp, scallops –– nestled in a perfectly prepared artichoke. I doubt I will ever fiddle with that recipe; it was just about as perfect as a dish could get.
The original idea
She also had a recipe where she stuffed avocados with a shrimp salad that included the removed avocado chunks and lots of vegetables in addition to the seafood. It was delicious, but as salads go, fattening, with a sauce made from full-fat creme fraiche and sour cream. She used southwest flavors, and always added something sweet: sometimes mango, sometimes pineapple, but often pears if they were beautifully in season.
I took her idea and lightened the sauce, using just lime juice and a little olive oil; this also removed the dairy so more of the family could enjoy it. When you mix the chunks of avocado with the other ingredients, a little of the fruit stuffs off, “creaming” the sauce. This resulting dish is light, and refreshing, and colorful to behold.
Shrimp Stuffed Avocados
This recipe is quick to put together once the shrimp is cooked, or you can purchase cooked shrimp from the fish market. Choose any size shrimp you want since these will be cut up.
Choose ripe avocados that are just barely soft to the touch. You do not want them to be rock hard, nor do you want them so soft you can’t cut them up. When just right, they will add a little creaminess to the dish.
If your limes are juicy, use one; if they are stingy with their juice, use two. You will want about 2 tbsp. or so, but use your judgement.
Use as much of the chili as you like, or more, or leave it out altogether and use a little sweet pepper. With all the ingredients, add according to your own taste. Do you want more onion? Less tomato? Make it the way you like, and taste as you go.
8 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 slice purple onion, 1/2-inch thick
Zest and juice of one or two limes
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Serrano or Jalapeño chili, finely minced
1 small red tomato, seeded, minced
1 small yellow tomato, seeded, minced
Parsley to garnish
Prepare the shrimp. Pat the shrimp dry. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper.
Heat a grill pan or cast-iron frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp. Cook for one to two minutes depending on size. The shrimp will start to turn pink and curl up. Turn, and cook for another minute, then remove from pan and chop up into bite-sized pieces.
Add the onion to the pan and grill that as well. When soft and caramelized, remove from the pan and mince up. Add to the shrimp and refrigerate until well chilled.
Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pit. With a teaspoon, gently remove the flesh, leaving a little behind. Chop up the avocado flesh and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle the lime zest and juice on top, and using your finger, smear a little of the lime juice on the inside of the avocado shells to prevent discoloration.
Combine the cumin, olive oil, chili, and tomatoes and mix well. Add the avocados and shrimp and onions, mix gently, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Fill the avocado generously with the stuffing, and garnish.
Serve: This makes eight starters, serving one per person. Serve two on a nice bed of greens for lunch. You can also serve this as a salad on little cups of lettuce.
Vegetarian Version: Make this vegetarian by substituting chick peas or black beans for the shrimp.
Nutritional information each half: One of these halves is just under 160 calories, with 12 g. of fat, 400 mg of potassium, 8 carbs, 5 grams of fiber, and 9 grams of protein. It is also a good source of Vitamins A and C, Calcium, and iron.
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