Shrimp, Avocado and Mango Salad

This is nice first course for four people, or a meal for two. It is a study of contrasts and complements. The oils of the avocado soothe the mild heat of the chili on the mango, and crisp texture of the lettuce and shrimp contrast with the buttery and smooth qualities of the avocado and mango. For complementary flavors, the acid of the mango and lime dressing show off the avocado flavor, and they all play up the sweetness of the shrimp.

INGREDIENTS:

6 cups butterleaf or romaine lettuce, washed and dried
1 large mango, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small pinch cayenne pepper powder
2 ripe avocados, with high oil content, such as Haas, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups cooked, cleaned and peeled shrimp such as 51/60 size (You want small shrimp, but NOT Bay shrimp*)
1 cup Lime Ginger Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves or cilantro leaves, sliced finely
1/2 cup dry roasted macadamia nuts, sliced or chopped (optional, but great!)

METHOD:

If using butterleaf lettuce, tear it into bite-sized bits. If using romaine, slice crosswise into 1/4 inch ribbons, and reserve

Lightly dust the mango with the cayenne and toss to evenly coat. Use just enough cayenne to give the mango a little heat.

Add the avocado to the mango and lightly toss to mix.

Dress the shrimp with 1-2 tablespoons of the dressing, tossing to coat. Fold the shrimp into the mango/avocado mixture.

Use just enough dressing to lightly coat the lettuces and toss.

Use a little more dressing on the shrimp/avo/mango combination so it is lightly coated.

Divide the lettuce among 4 chilled plates, then do the same with the shrimp-avocado-mango mixture, centering it on lettuce. Sprinkle with the mint or cilantro, then scatter the nuts over all.

Serve chilled.

*Use small firm shrimp for this salad. If you only have larger shrimp, cook them and cut then into 1/2 inch pieces. Avoid Bay shrimp because they are usually frequently tasteless and soggy and will leach liquid all over the salad, diluting the flavor and wilting the lettuce.

YIELD: 4 servings as first course, or 2 servings as a light main course

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