Suzi's Blog

Avocado and Shrimp Salad

For a party where the food is going to be tapas — lots of little plates that let people dabble in multiple flavors — you have an endless palette of dishes to select from. You’ll want a mix, of course, with perhaps some seafood, some other proteins, veggies, cheeses, dips, … If you assemble a half dozen dishes, or more, you’re sure to please your guests.

Now, the thought of doing six or more things may at first seem intimidating: there’s the shopping, the preparation, timing it all just before the party begins, … The wonder of tapas is that you can truly mix and match. Some of your tapas dishes may require some serious effort. But others, and this is one of them, can be breathtaking to devour and very fast to prepare. You can make this one hours ahead, cover, put in the fridge, and bring out just in time.

In a nutshell, you dice up some ripe avocado, mix in some mayonnaise and capers, and top with cooked shrimp. This dish takes minutes to assemble, but it is quite luxurious.

This recipe comes from The Book of Tapas by Simone and Ines Ortega. They suggest a homemade mayonnaise using a blender recipe. Suzen and I found that a traditional homemade mayonnaise using a whisk is actually easier to make and lets you better control the texture [and not by coincidence there’s a mayonnaise post just 4 days back:  http://cookingbythebook.com/blog/recipes/homemade-mayonnaise/

You can, of course, improvise by adding in some herbs or finely diced onions. Heat from, say, diced jalapenos is surely an option. The important value of this recipe is that, as presented here, this dish is delicious, very eye appealing, and yet so quick to prepare.

In the days to come, I’ll post some other tapas ideas that do require a little more effort. All of the recipes together will make for a smashing party menu.

Avocado and Shrimp Salad

Yield: Serves Four

Ingredients:

  • 4 avocados
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 4 tablespoons bottled salmon roe drained to garnish
  • 5 ounces cooked shrimp, peeled
  • 1 cup homemade mayonnaise

Preparation:

Peel and halve the avocados, remove the pits, then cut the flesh into cubes. Put them into a bowl and sprinkle the lemon juice over them. Stir in 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise and the capers. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the cooked shrimp and salmon roe.

Tasting Notes:

You can certainly add more lemon juice or even lime juice to avocados. The 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise added to the avocados can be increased for a creamer base. And the remainder of the one cup of mayonnaise should be available on the side for dipping the shrimp.

Source: Adapted from The Book of Tapas by Simone and Ines Ortega

Shrimp Tomatillo Cocktail

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It’s hard to pass up a cold shrimp. Or three or four. This “appetizer” is one that can serve you well multiple ways. As suggested, you can make it an elegant cocktail appetizer, nestling the shrimp and sauce in a shot glass to let the red and green colors sparkle for your guests.

Or, you can present the shrimp on a bed of greens, or even rice, and then adorn with the sauce. You then have the main course centerpiece for a lovely brunch or dinner. If you go that main course route, you’ll want to add another pound of shrimp to serve 8.

The shrimp taste, surprisingly, like shrimp. The sauce makes the dish. It’s a great combination of flavors with tomatillo accented with more heat from horseradish yet mellowed with honey. You tongue will be working overtime to figure it all out. That exactly makes for an interesting dish!

The Gulf oil spill is winding down. Those hardy Gulf fishermen are back in their boats. It’s time to put the shrimp back on our tables.

Shrimp-Tomatillo Cocktail

Yield: 6 to 8 Servings

Ingredients:

For the Shrimp:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

For the Sauce:

  • 12 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 jalapeño peppers
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 3 tablespoon horseradish, drained
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Prepare the shrimp. Combine 8 cups cold water, 2 tablespoons salt, the coriander and peppercorn in a large saucepan. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the wedges. Boil 5 minutes, then remove from the heat, add the shrimp, cover and set aside, about 15 minutes. Strain and transfer the shrimp to a bowl; cover, and chill at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapeños in a roasting pan. Toss with the canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until soft, tossing occasionally 25 to 35 minutes.

Cook the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water, about 1 minute. Drain, squeeze dry and transfer to a food processor. Add the tomatillo mixture, vinegar, horseradish, cilantro and honey and pulse until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill at least 1 hour. Bring to room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Serve the sauce and shrimp in shot glasses, if desired.

Source: Food Network Magazine