Living in a city where summers are beautiful but fleeting, any sighting of sunshine is reason to celebrate with bright, zingy flavors and simple salads. This lovely, clean recipe epitomizes spring and summer cooking. It can be put together in less than 10 minutes, and it works brilliantly as either an appetizer or a light lunch.
The inspiration for this recipe is my friend, Dani. Dani is Italian, and we met in graduate school when I was a fresh-off-the-boat student from India. Though I'd grown up eating delicious Indian food, I hadn't been exposed to a lot of other culinary experiences. He introduced me to my first glass of wine (and consequently, my first hangover) and my first real Italian carbonara, and he led me to the realization that food doesn't necessarily have to be complicated to be delicious.
Dani is a fabulous cook, and being Italian, one could always expect to have amazing food at his house. We cooked and ate a lot with each other, me introducing him to homemade Indian food and him showing me the secrets of Italian cuisine. We even tried some Indo-Italian fusion ... though the less said about that, the better.
This recipe is a riff on one that Dani used to make often: avocados stuffed with soft, creamy goat cheese, served on salad leaves drizzled with a balsamic dressing. I totally appropriated the idea and added small sweet prawns, marinated in a fresh, tangy, spicy dressing. This combination works brilliantly, evoking South American ceviche-like flavors that are my go-to for spring and summer cooking. I like to serve it with a mixed baby herb salad with arugula to add sharp, peppery notes, and balance out both the rich creaminess of the avocado and the light sweetness of the mango.
All you need to do to serve is tear up a fresh, crusty baguette with butter, add a glass of chilled wine or sparkling apple cider, and that's summer sorted.
Avocado Stuffed with Spicy Shrimp over Spring Greens
Serves 4 as a salad course or light lunch
1 cup small cooked shrimp
1 medium ripe mango, diced
1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes, or to taste
Zest and juice of 1 lime (reserve 1/2 teaspoon of the juice)
Small handful finely chopped cilantro
Sea salt and pepper to taste
2 medium avocados
Fresh baby herb salad greens, to serve
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Place the shrimp, mango, chili flakes, zest and juice of the lime, and cilantro in a bowl and mix together. Season with sea salt and black pepper, and leave to marinate for a few minutes.
Halve the avocados. Carefully remove the pit and peel away the skin. (See How To Remove the Pit from an Avocado.) Rub the avocado halves with the reserved 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
Divide salad greens among four plates, and drizzle with a splash of extra-virgin olive oil. Place an avocado half on the greens, fill with the spiced shrimp mixture, and serve.
- You can replace the mango in the recipe with diced tomatoes or cooked sweet corn.
(Image credits: Michelle Peters-Jones)