Shrimp, Avocado and Roasted Corn Salad

By Jan D’Atri

Salads. Lots of us are craving them right now as we’re still coming off of a holiday eating frenzy. But, if you’re going to have a salad as a main meal, it had better be a darn good one, right?

I discovered the appeal of great main dish salads when I had my restaurants. One of the most popular items on the menu was our garbage salad. Believe me, it was fully loaded with meats, cheeses, caramelized vegetables and oh, yes, somewhere in there was romaine.

Well, I just stumbled upon another loaded-with-flavor salad that inspired me enough to write about and share with you! It’s a shrimp, avocado, tomato and roasted corn salad with a creamy, dreamy pesto mayonnaise dressing. (You can substitute yogurt for the mayo!)

This salad checks all the boxes for me. It’s got a little crunch, a smooth, creamy dressing and when you add jumbo shrimp, charred corn, ripe avocado, crisp bacon and sweet cherry tomatoes, you’ve got a winner all the way around!

It’s kind of the salad version of a one-pot wonder, because you use the same pan to char the corn, brown the bacon and cook the shrimp! The pesto dressing puts it over the top. With salads like this, we can make it through another year until sugar cookie platters and eggnog coax us into submission! 

Shrimp, Avocado, Tomato & Roasted Corn Salad

Salad Ingredients:

2 ears of fresh corn, shaved off the cob

6 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and rough chopped 

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half 

1 lb. large raw shrimp, peeled with tails off

4 cups chopped iceberg or romaine lettuce

1 avocado, diced

1/2 cup grated parmesan, pecorino or Romano cheese

Buttermilk pesto dressing

Buttermilk Pesto Dressing Ingredients:

1/2 cup buttermilk (*See below for homemade buttermilk)

1/2 cup mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup pesto, homemade or store bought

1 small shallot, minced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Pinch of salt and pepper, to taste

Salad Directions:

Heat a skillet over high heat. Add the corn kernels and let them dry roast, stirring until their edges begin to brown and caramelize. Transfer the corn to a plate to set aside. Reduce heat to medium-high. In the same skillet, add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving the grease in the skillet. Add the shrimp and sauté until cooked and pink, about 2 minutes per side (depending on the size of your shrimp). Remove shrimp and set aside to cool. Make salad dressing.

Assemble your salad by tossing together the lettuce, corn, bacon, shrimp, tomatoes, avocado and cheese. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

Dressing Directions:

Whisk together all ingredients until blended. Season with salt and pepper.

*For homemade buttermilk, combine 1/2 cup milk and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Stir to thicken.

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