Seafood Salad with Avocado-Buttermilk Dressing

25 05 2011

Shellfish at the market

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.

About Buttermilk

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)

Avocado-Buttermilk Dressing:

  • 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Add the garlic, buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, cider vinegar and two teaspoons of the chives to the avocado. Puree the mixture until smooth.
  3. Transfer dressing to a bowl and stir in the remaining chives, diced shallot and season with salt to taste.
  4. Use as a dip or dressing. It will keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days.

Plating the Salads:

  1. 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.
  2. Drizzle with avocado-buttermilk vinaigrette and garnish with fresh chopped chives.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Seafood Salad with Avocado-Buttermilk Dressing

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication. This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.

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Asian Summer Slaw

7 07 2010

Beat the heat with a refreshing salad of seasonal vegetables and an Asian-style dressing.

We’re having a major heat wave in Southern Ontario, with high temperatures and humidity not seen here since 2007.  While this is good for growing things such as peaches, tomatoes and grapes, it can be a challenge when trying to decide what to eat for dinner each night.  No one wants to run a hot oven when the temperature is soaring so we look for things that are fresh and cooling.

So what should we eat?  Salads, of course!  Salads are a great option at the peak of summer because a lot of local produce is now available at the market.  A vibrant salad packed with fresh vegetables and lightly tossed with an Asian-inspired dressing is the perfect dish for dinner. It pairs well with grilled meats and rice dishes or you can add some grilled shrimp or chicken to make it a substantial main dish on its own. Cooked whole-wheat spaghettini or chow mein noodles would also be a nice addition.

The prep work for this salad takes a bit of time but none of it is difficult.  You could use bagged shredded coleslaw mix in place of chopping the cabbage and carrots. The dressing can be made in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.  However, don’t dress the salad too far in advance or it will get soggy and limp.

Asian Summer Slaw

Makes 4 to 6 side dish servings (can be made as a main course as well, see above)

(VEGETARIAN)

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup Hellman’s/Best Foods style light mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon sodium-reduced soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, if you prefer a bit of heat)
  1. In a small bowl, add all ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Salad:

  • 3/4 cup snow peas (about 15), trimmed
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 small or 1/2 a large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 4 green onions, chopped (white and light green parts – save the dark green tops for garnish)
  • 1 cup sliced cucumbers – cut about 1/4″ thick (about 1/2 a large cuke)
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 cups shredded Napa or green cabbage
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  1. To blanch snow peas: Prepare a bowl of cold water and add a few ice cubes. Set aside.  Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add snow peas and cook for 1 minute.  Drain peas and plunge them immediately into the ice water to halt cooking.  Drain and dry them once they cool and add to a large salad bowl.
  2. Add the red pepper strips, carrot, green onion, cucumber, bean sprouts and cabbage to the bowl.  Use salad forks (or spoons) to toss all ingredients until combined.  Add dressing to the salad a little at a time and stir to coat the vegetables, making sure you don’t overdress the salad (you probably won’t use all of the dressing. Extra dressing can be kept covered in the fridge for a couple of days).  Stir in sesame seeds and garnish with green onion slices.
  3. Serve as a side dish or add some protein and noodles as described above.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Feta

20 02 2010

 

Beets in cold storage

 

I tend to think of salad as a summer dish, which makes sense considering all the great produce available during the summer months.  Salads are the perfect meal when it’s hot out – crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes and sweet peppers are refreshing when the weather turns humid.  However, salads can work in colder months too. Winter salads can be made with seasonal vegetables such as beets, celery root or potatoes and often incorporate cheese, nuts or meat to make them more substantial. 

Pairing roasted beets with nuts and cheese is not a new idea; in fact, I recently tried a delicious version with gorgonzola and pistachios at Locanda Verde restaurant in New York City.  My version calls for walnuts and feta cheese but goat cheese can be substituted if you’d prefer.  A bright sherry vinegar dressing pulls all of the flavours together.  Don’t skip the pickled shallots – they take a few minutes to make but add a nice sweet-tart element to the salad.  The salad is substantial enough to be a main course but you can always adjust the servings to work as a starter.

Roasting Beets:  To roast beets with minimal mess, trim the roots and greens, if still attached (reserve the greens for another use). Peel the beets and discard peelings. Cut beets into 1-1/2″ cubes and toss in a bowl with a tablespoon of neutral tasting oil such as canola or safflower oil. Spread beet chunks on a baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 20 minutes or until beets are tender and beginning to caramelize. Wash hands immediately after handling the beets to avoid staining.

Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Feta

(VEGETARIAN)

Makes 2 main course salads or 4 starter course salads

  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • 4 beets, cubed and roasted (see ‘Roasting Beets’ above)
  • 1 cup toasted walnut halves
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese or to taste
  • Pickled shallots (see recipe below)
  • Sherry Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Pickled Shallots

  • 5 shallots, peeled and cut into thin rings (about ½ cup of shallots)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  1. In a saucepan, combine sugar and vinegar and stir until combined. Bring to a boil and add shallots.
  2. Let mixture simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until it cools.
  3. Drain vinegar and use pickled shallots as desired

Sherry Vinaigrette

  • 3 Tablespoons of neutral oil such as canola or safflower
  • 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon style mustard
  • A pinch of salt
  1. In a small bowl, add all ingredients and whisk until combined.

To Assemble Salads:

  1. In a large bowl, toss mixed greens with enough vinaigrette to moisten leaves. Assemble greens on plates.
  2. Top greens with beets, walnuts, feta and shallots. Lightly toss each serving until ingredients are combined. Drizzle with more vinaigrette if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.

Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Feta