Friday, August 10, 2012

Not So Fast but Definitely Fabulous: Grilled Shrimp & Avocado Panzanella!

The other day my husband approached me with a mischievous grin and a gleam in his eye. Yes, you guessed it, he had just found a recipe he was very excited to try!

This particular recipe featured mouth-watering, Summer-inspired ingredients including creamy avocados, fresh shrimp and ripe tomatoes. The fact that it involved the grill made it a shoe-in!

Panzanella is a Tuscan salad which traditionally includes tomatoes and chunks of soaked stale bread that's very popular during the Summer months. The tomatoes and bread are usually accompanied by onions, basil and a vinaigrette of olive oil and vinegar. I have to say the flavors of this dish were absolutely phenomenal but I tweaked the ratio of ingredients slightly to maximize the fabulous flavor and balance out the "carb factor."

This dish also lends itself well to cooking "a deux" which also cuts the prep time in half. Steve and I had alot of fun prepping our respective "components" although somewhere along the way I got roped into chopping all the garlic...hmmm. Anyway, a couple helpful hints for preparing this dish, be sure to make the tomato, avocado and onion salad last and shortly before serving or your avocado will turn brown. You also want to combine all of the ingredients shortly before serving - panzanella salads are prone to getting soggy. I do have to say though, this dish was surprisingly delicious the day after!

As for wine, a crisp, chilled Italian white would work nicely with this panzanella salad. If you're feeling a little adventurous, opt for a Vernaccia di San Gimignano from Tuscany or an unoaked Ribolla di Gialla from Italy's Friuli-Venezia Giulia region instead of a standard issue Pinot Grigio.

I hope you enjoy this salad as much as we did. It will definitely be on the rotation at our house for the rest of the Summer and beyond. Also, keep this dish in mind for entertaining - your guests will love it!

Cheers,



Grilled Shrimp & Avocado Panzanella
Vinaigrette:
2/3 cup good olive oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 gloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste 

Bread:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounce loaf sourdough French bread 

Shrimp:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 lb. large or extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails off 

Salad:
2 large, ripe tomatoes cored and diced
2 ripe Haas avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 red onion, diced

Heat the grill to medium-high (in the event of inclement weather, you can also use your trusty indoor grill pan)
Vinaigrette: in a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve.
Bread: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic powder, oregano and salt. Cut the sourdough French bread into thick slices (approx. 1 1/4 inches thick). Brush both sides of each slice generously with the oil mixture. Set aside.
Shrimp: In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper. Add the shrimp and toss to coat evenly.
Now, you're ready to grill! Add bread slices to your pre-heated grill and toast for about 2 minutes per side. While bread is toasting, arrange the shrimp on the other side of the frill. Cook the shrimp until just pink and firm, about 2 minutes per side.
Remove the bread to a cutting board and cut into bite sized cubes. Transfer the bread and cooked shrimp to a large serving bowl. Add the tomatoes, avocados and onion and toss gently. Drizzle the salad with the vinaigrette then genly toss again to mix well. Serve immediately.
Serves 6-8

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