As the weather warms up, many of us are looking for fresh meal ideas. A simple salad of chilled seafood topped with an easy avocado and buttermilk dressing makes an elegant lunch or light dinner. It can also be served in smaller portions as a starter course. Many fish markets sell lobster, shrimp and crab that have already been cooked which makes this a snap to pull together. Make sure you select an avocado that is very ripe – I often plan ahead and buy my avocados a few days before I need them because the ones at my local store are usually under ripe and as hard as rocks.
Traditionally, buttermilk was the liquid that was left after making butter. Today, most buttermilk sold in supermarkets is made by adding lactic acid bacteria culture to pasteurized milk. Buttermilk is tangier tasting and slightly thicker than regular milk. Full-fat and lower-fat options are available in the dairy section of most grocery stores and it is sometimes sold as a powder in the baking section. However, if buttermilk is not available, a decent substitute is to stir one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice into one cup of milk. Let the mixture sit for five minutes and stir until smooth. Sour cream or plain yogurt will also work – mix with a small amount of milk to thin it.
Seafood Salad with Avocado Dressing
Makes 4 light servings
- About 16 oz. cooked seafood such as lobster, shrimp or crab (or a mix of all three)
- 4 cups butter lettuce leaves
- 20 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- Fresh chopped chives as garnish
- Dressing (see below)
- 1 very ripe avocado
- 1 clove garlic
- 6 Tablespoons 1% buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute – see above)
- 3 Tablespoons Hellman’s or Best Foods style mayonnaise – regular or light
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 teaspoons chopped chives
- Very finely diced shallot
- Salt, to taste
To Make Dressing:
- Cut the avocado lengthwise through the middle and pull the two halves apart. Remove the pit and discard. Scoop the avocado into the bowl of a food processor or processor cup of a hand blender.
- Add the garlic, buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, cider vinegar and two teaspoons of the chives to the avocado. Puree the mixture until smooth.
- Transfer dressing to a bowl and stir in the remaining chives, diced shallot and season with salt to taste.
- Use as a dip or dressing. It will keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days.
Plating the Salads:
- Place a bed of lettuce on each of four salad plates or one big serving plate. Top with cherry tomato halves. Set cooked seafood on top of the lettuce and tomatoes, arranging it so it looks attractive.
- Drizzle with avocado-buttermilk vinaigrette and garnish with fresh chopped chives.