In the summer, one of my go-to meals is quickly cooking some shrimp, chicken, or steak and serving it with a hearty and healthy salad, and this is one of my favorite combinatons.
The creaminess of the avocado works well in place of cheese and is nicely offset by the tangy lemon dressing and the crunch of the toasted pine nuts. Pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) can easily be substituted if you're not a pine nuts person (it happens). While I chose to season the shrimp with cayenne and dried oregano, if you prefer a pre-made Cajun or other type of blend, please feel free to use that.
The one thing—OK, maybe two things—that could go wrong with this dish: either oversalting the shrimp or overcooking them. The acid from the lime juice is clutch if you end up oversalting, and even if you don't, it's a nice and fresh-tasting way to finish off the shrimp. Overcooking the shrimp is an unfortunate situation because there isn't much that can be done about reversing the process. Generally, most shrimp that's purchased in supermarkets or seafood stores are on the smaller side and cook in 3-4 minutes. If you're really worried, cut into one and make sure that it's pink and no longer translucent. This will help you avoid the rubbery end that is unpleasant for all.
Adding hearts of palm or cilantro could be fun twists on this salad. Mixing freshly grated garlic into the dressing is another great option.
- 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 large peeled and deveined shrimp
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 5 ounces baby arugula
- 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 1 ripe Hass avocado, sliced
- 1 cup Sun Gold or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 to 8 picked basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice from about 1 lime
In a mixing bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cayenne, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the shrimp and coat with the mixture. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Whisk together lemon juice and 4 tablespoons olive oil. Set aside.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a 10-inch cast iron or stainless steel skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp and cook without moving until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a small bowl and toss with lime juice.
In a large serving bowl, combine the arugula, shallot, pine nuts, avocado, tomatoes and basil. Add dressing, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Serve immediately, topped with shrimp.