A quick and easy recipe that is elegant and tasty.
I love a recipe that I can make early in the day and let sit around in the refrigerator getting better and better as the day goes on. Special little salads fall into this category, and in our family shrimp is always at the top of the list.
This recipe is also flexible. I happened to have a beautiful fennel bulb in my refrigerator with tons of fronds, so I used those in the salad and to garnish. You can easily substitute fresh flat-leafed parsley or cilantro if you like it.
Eat with the seasons, usually…
This is not the time of year for melons and I broke one of my eat-the-season rules when I bought a lovely organic cantaloupe that was at the perfect place of ripeness, but from far away. Sometimes we just have to listen to our stomachs first. I make a skewered shrimp/avocado/melon dish and this came to mind. I also thought of a lovely little appetizer my mother-in-law used to make that was this simple trio and a few other things I can only guess at, and haven’t succeeded in recreating. This doesn’t taste the same, but it is still a nod to her.
I used one jalapeño, seeds removed, membrane intact. You can use less or more, keep or discard the seeds, or you can leave this out altogether if you don’t care for heat.
Roasted Shrimp Cocktail with Avocado and Melon
Serves 4 hearty or 6 lightly as starter
- 3 tbsp. aged sherry vinegar
- 2 scallions, fine slice
- ¼ cup shallots or purple onion, finely minced
- Zest and juice of one lime
- 1 jalapeño pepper, finely minced
- 1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp. fennel fronds, minced
- 1 tsp. agave syrup or honey
- 1 tbsp. fruity olive oil
- ¼ tsp. sea salt and few grinds of pepper
- 2 cups cubed melon, preferably musk or cantaloupe
- 1 or 2 avocados, diced
- 1 lb. large wild shrimp
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ tsp. sweet paprika
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Make the dressing first so the flavors can blend. Just whisk everything together in a large bowl and set aside.
Dice up the melon and avocados and add them to the bowl, just place them on top of the dressing.
Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the little tail section on. (If you like, place the shells in a small saucepan with water and simmer for a half hour to make a little shrimp stock to freeze for another use)
Place them in a bowl and sprinkle with the paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix this up with your fingers and place shrimp in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast on the middle rack for 7 minutes and remove from the oven. They should have a little color, have curled up, and turned a pretty pinkish. You don’t want them to overcook. Reserve eight of the nicest looking for later garnish.
When cooled, remove the tail from the rest of the shrimp and cut into three or four pieces. Add to the bowl, and mix everything together. Taste to correct seasoning.
Place the reserved shrimp on top, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour so the flavors can get acquainted. This is nice made in the morning for an evening event.
Scoop the salad into Margarita glasses, garnish with a little more fennel or parsley, and two lovely shrimp on each.
You can also serve this in little Boston lettuce cups for a party table.
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