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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Celery Root Slaw

15 10 2010

 

Celery root (celeriac) is not the most attractive vegetable but it's delicious and versatile

 

Celery root (a.k.a. celeriac) is a root vegetable with a mild celery-like taste.  It is delicious both raw and cooked and it can be a nice alternative to potatoes in a puree or soup.  However, I particularly like celery root shredded and mixed with a lemony dressing, making a refreshing cold-weather slaw that is perfect with roast meats.

Celery root tends to be quite hard so peeling one requires a sharp knife.  To easily peel off the ugly outer skin, slice a sliver off the bottom so the root will stand upright on a cutting board.  Using a large, very sharp knife, carefully slice the skin off in a downward motion, working your way around the root (much like peeling a pineapple). Discard the skin. The root can be hand shredded on a box grater, however, I find it’s much easier to do so with a food processor grater attachment if you have one.

This salad makes a great side dish to roast chicken, braised short ribs or roast beef. Prepare the salad a few hours in advance so the flavours have time to come together and the celery root softens a little.

Celery Root Slaw

Makes about 4-1/2 cups of slaw

  • ½ large celery root or one small celery root, peeled (see note above for peeling guidelines) – will equal about 4-1/2 cups once shredded
  • ¾ cup Hellman’s or Best Foods style mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tablespoon flat leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
  • Frisee or salad greens for serving (optional)
  1. Cut peeled celery root into 3” chunks. Using a food processor with a grater attachment or a box grater, grate celery root. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, celery salt, sugar, Dijon and garlic. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add mayonnaise mixture to grated celery root. Add chopped parsley and mix until completely mixed and celery root shreds are evenly coated.
  4. Serve on a bed of frisee or mixed greens, if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.

 

Celery root slaw makes a refreshing cold-weather salad

 





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!