If I didn’t live in California, I think the avocado would be my one non-local produce exception. Luckily, they only disappear from our farmers’ markets for a couple of months in the dead of winter so we can enjoy them nearly year round here, but they are exceptionally good right now. True, they wouldn’t pass muster with the 100 Mile Diet crowd – though they do grow in Northern California, most commercial varieties are grown south of Los Angeles – but I already said they were my exception.
Avocados are nutrient-dense in relation to their calorie content, which qualifies them as a true superfood. They’re full of heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E, and they contain protein, fiber and the antioxidant lutein. Because they are high in fat, they help you absorb nutrients from other foods, as well. That’s a lot to love.
Here’s a recipe that’s fitting for a white-glove garden party. A little old-fashioned perhaps, but ideal for spring. (Note: be sure to seek out wild American shrimp. It’s a good choice from an environmental point of view, and to my palate, better tasting than most farmed shrimp. American shrimp trawlers are required to outfit their nets with devices that allow sea turtles and fish to escape and avoid becoming by-catch. It’s not a perfect method, but much better than the majority of shrimp farming operations.)
Avocados and American Shrimp
1 cup plain organic yogurt
1 organic lemon
1 bay leaf
1 pound medium, wild American shrimp, peeled and de-veined with tails removed
1/4 cup finely diced fresh organic fennel
4 tablespoons chopped or snipped organic chives
4 tablespoons finely chopped organic Italian parsley
1 tablespoon fresh organic lemon juice, or to taste
2 ripe avocados
Coarse sea salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
Put the yogurt in a cheesecloth or coffee filter-lined strainer and set over a bowl to drain for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Cut the ends off the lemon and place them in the water, along with the bay leaf. Squeeze the juice from the rest of the lemon and set aside.
Put the shrimp in the boiling water and poach until opaque, about 1 minute. Drain immediately and set aside. Chop roughly into 1/4-inch pieces. Chill for 10 minutes in the refrigerator. In a mixing bowl, whisk the drained thick yogurt together with the fennel, chives, parsley and lemon juice. Add the chilled shrimp. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill thoroughly for up to one hour.
Just before serving, cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. Salt the insides lightly. Mound the shrimp salad in the avocado halves, portioning evenly. Serve immediately. (This being Cinco de Mayo, you might want to enjoy with a margarita!)
Image: Simon Goldenberg