Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Beat the Heat Summer Salad

For those of you that live on the east coast, it’s certainly no surprise that temps are blowing way past 90 and reaching into the 100 degree territory. It’s a face-melter out there! I happen to love the heat if I’m sitting poolside in a bathing suit sipping lemonade. I don’t have the same appreciation for the scorching sun while riding public transportation to and from the big city.

I came up with this salad recipe last night after making the trek home from work. The heat made it a chore just to breathe, let alone cook a 4 course meal. Actually, I’ve been trying to eat larger portions during the day when I feel the hungriest and scale down my dinners at night since I don’t get around to eating until at least 7 o’clock.

I wanted something refreshing; the dinner equivalent of a dip in the pool. My go-to for a light dinner is always salad, but I was looking to punch up the hum drum lettuce and make it a little more interesting. The resulting creation is a SHRIMP AND AVOCADO SALAD WITH GRAPEFRUIT VINAIGRETTE.

These flavors worked out really well. The combination of tart grapefruit with buttery avocado and crunchy almonds balances nicely. The avocado adds some necessary creaminess. Toasting the almonds makes all the difference in the world here. Invest the extra 5 minutes in toasting them. As a rule, I top my salads with chopped nuts in lieu of croutons. Almonds are at the top of the “power foods” list. They’re the most nutrient-dense nut you can choose from so I opted for almonds.

The shrimp adds enough protein for this to be considered a meal. Since it’s summer, I tossed the shrimp on the grill for added smoky flavor. “I” obviously means I sent my husband out to battle the blazing temperatures to grill these shrimp. Don’t feel too bad for him. He was fully armed with a cold beer in hand (not even a light beer! For shame!).

And please don’t think we have some fancy grill setup that Bobby Flay would be jealous of. We grill up everything on a funky little camping stove on the side of our apartment. No frills works just fine. If you prefer, shrimp sautéed in a little olive oil on the stove would be just as delicious.
The dressing is very light and just enough to tie the whole salad together. It’s intended to be thin; just enough to lightly coat the spinach leaves. My grapefruit was fairly sweet, but if yours are too tart, you can always add a little honey to the dressing to balance it out.

It’s fresh, it’s quick, and it’s easy; an instant cool-down on a hot summer day.

* Get cooking. Let me know what you think. Love it? Hate it? I’m interested in hearing your feedback and suggestions.

Spinach on Foodista

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