A few weeks ago a friend of mine contacted me asking for help creating a menu. She and her family were vacationing in Maine for the summer and she wanted to create a California-style meal as a thank you to their hosts. What a fun project!!
To me California foods are all about using what is in season and serving it fairly simply – letting it shine. What is abundant here in the summer? Artichokes and avocados immediately came to mind and of course anything that uses Mexican flavors. So many options, now just to narrow them down.
Option 1: You can make a really nice salad if you chop up some canned artichoke hearts, toss with some cooked and chopped red potatoes, chopped fresh vegetables, fresh herbs and use a little of the brine from the artichokes as part of the vinaigrette dressing. A new take on an old favorite and really easy to make!
Option 2: Following the Mexican stream of consciousness, grill fresh corn on the cob until you have some nice caramelization starting. Squeeze some fresh lime juice over the corn, sprinkled salt, chopped cilantro and some queso fresco. Oh yeah!
Option 3: What about using avocados as the “dish” for some sauteed vegetables and shrimp? Yep, that’s a winner! Especially when today is avocado day at the Food Network’s #SummerFest! And you can see all of our recipes on our Pinterest page too!
That’s right, today we are all celebrating the ugly duckling of the fruit world. With its black and bumpy skin, from the outside it is absolutely nothing to look at but once you open it up, the creamy green goodness is intoxicating and addicting.
Most people turn it into guacamole (which I love), but today I thought we would just enhance its natural beauty with some lightly sauteed vegetables and bay shrimp, letting it shine in a totally indulgent fashion!
Actually, you could stuff the avocados with anything you like, but this combination gives you lots of flexibility and is totally dependent on what you already have in the refrigerator. Unless your veggie drawer is completely empty, you probably already have just about everything you need.
When you cook the vegetables, make sure you lightly sauté them. You want them still slightly crunchy to offset the creaminess of the avocado. If you want a little more brightness, add a splash of fresh lemon juice to the saucepan while they are cooking. The extra acid will help cut through the fat of the fruit and complement the shrimp.
If you want to serve this as a vegetarian/vegan luncheon entrée, just leave off the shrimp. And there, in a jiffy you have an instant solution to hosting someone who doesn’t eat meat, is allergic to dairy products or is gluten-intolerant!
My friend ended up making all of my recommendations plus a few more of her own ideas and everyone in Maine got a better understanding of how lucky we are to live in a part of the country with such an incredible bounty of ingredients!
Have a wonderful day my friends and enjoy all these avocado recipes!!
These are naturally gluten-free and full of heart-healthy oils!
Kitchen Skill: How to Remove the Pit from Avocados
Use a sharp paring knife to slice the avocado in half lengthwise. Grab both halves and twist in opposite directions to separate them. Holding the half with the pit still in it in one hand, gently tap your knife in the pit, twisting it to loosen it. Carefully extract it from the knife and discard the pit. Repeat with remaining avocados.
If the thought of using a knife to extract the pit scares you, use a spoon, slip it underneath the pit and pop it out. You will lose a bit of the meat of the avocado, but you won’t run the risk of cutting yourself.
Summertime Vegetable-Shrimp Stuffed Avocados
© 2013 Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook. All rights reserved
Yield: 4 servings
These stuffed avocados make a lovely summertime lunch entrée or can be used as a first course for dinner. Leave out the shrimp and you have a vegetarian/vegan option. You can also use this as a side dish. If you are not serving these immediately, rub the cut sides of the avocados with the lemon to help keep them from oxidizing.
2 tbsp high quality olive oil
1/2 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 zucchini, minced
1 yellow crookneck squash or yellow zucchini, minced
2 carrots, peeled and minced
2 stalks celery, trimmed and minced
1 to 2 tsp oregano, thyme, ground cumin, or other favorite herb
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 ripe avocados
1/4 lb cooked bay shrimp, rinsed well and patted dry with paper towels (can be left out)
2 fresh lemons, cut into wedges
In a 10-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chopped vegetables, oregano and salt and pepper. Toss until everything is evenly coated with oil and seasonings are distributed. Cook, stirring often, until just starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and twist open. Pop the seeds out of the centers and discard (see Kitchen Skill above). Cut a very thin slice off the rounded sides of the avocado halves, creating a stable bottom so they won’t wobble on the plate. Place two halves on each serving plate.
Rinse shrimp well and pat dry with paper towels. Add to the vegetables in the skillet and toss until evenly distributed. Using a small spoon, fill the centers of the avocado halves with the vegetable and shrimp mixture. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the top. Add a couple of lemon wedges to each plate and serve immediately.
Make Ahead: You can prep and sauté the vegetables up to several hours in advance but do not add in the shrimp. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat, adding a splash more olive oil if needed. Add the shrimp, toss to combine, and set aside to cool. Prepare the avocados, stuff and serve.
Create a New Tradition Today!
Make sure you check out all of these remarkable recipes from my blogging friends!
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Devour: No-Cook Avocado, Shrimp and Mango Salad
Taste With The Eyes: Zucchini “Pappardelle” with Avocado “Cream”
FN Dish: 10 Audacious Guacamole Add-Ins