Grilled or sliced, savory or sweet—creamy avocados corner the fresh market in these summery salads and a cool treat
Photos by David Uhrin
Hipsters may have made them meme-worthy—$22 avocado toast, anyone?—but there’s a reason nutritionists and foodies alike sing the praises of the super fruit also known as an alligator pear. Avocados’ gorgeous yellow-green hue, luscious texture and nutty flavor add richness and star quality to virtually any dish. They also happen to be packed with vitamins and those beloved “good” fats we don’t have to feel guilty about.
Here, local cooking instructor Jacqui Renager mixes things up with recipes for two beautiful, colorful summer salads featuring both grilled and plain sliced avocados as well as an easy and delicious avocado mint chocolate chip ice cream that, yes, even kids will love.
Both salads—one with orzo pasta and grilled shrimp and the other bursting with fresh fruit and brie cheese—are dressed with a homemade vinaigrette that gets its seasonal zing from an apricot balsamic available at Savor the Olive in Virginia Beach (substitute with any good quality, fruit-flavored or regular balsamic if needed).
Grilling avocados complements their richness with a slight smokey flavor. Simply slice the avocado in half, Renager notes, remove the pit, brush with a little lemon or lime juice and olive oil and place them on a medium hot grill for a few minutes or until those pretty char marks appear. You can also slice them first and gently grill the slices on each side.
You’ll want to make sure the avocados are at that magical state of ripeness, not too firm, but also not mushy. Renager recommends the thumb test. When you press your thumb gently into the avocado skin, it should indent just slightly—any less and it’s underripe, any more and it’s overripe.
All Recipes by Jacqui Renager of Fun in the Kitchen with Jacqui
Orzo Salad with Grilled Shrimp and Grilled Avocado
1 pound orzo cooked and cooled
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
5 stems of fresh chives, chopped
1 English cucumber peeled and chopped into ¼ inch pieces
½ cup sliced black olives
1 cup shaved parmesan cheese
12 medium shrimp, grilled and chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 ripe avocado, grilled and chopped into ½ inch pieces
½ cup apricot balsamic vinaigrette* (or as desired)
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette and toss. Cool in refrigerator for at least two hours. Add another splash of vinaigrette before serving.
*Apricot Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 garlic clove minced
¼ cup apricot balsamic vinegar** (Savor the Olive, Virginia Beach)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Water to thin
In a blender or Bullet mixer (or tall container with an emersion blender), process together the syrup, balsamic, mustard, salt, pepper and garlic. Add the oil slowly. Continue processing until the dressing is fully emulsified. If the vinaigrette is too thick, simply add water a tablespoon at a time until you have reached your desired consistency. Store in a jar with a lid and refrigerate.
**If apricot balsamic is unavailable, substitute with another white, fruit flavored balsamic or other quality aged balsamic vinegar, available at many grocery stores.
Avocado Salad with Brie
(Pictured at Top)
4 cups spring mix
1 avocado, grilled and chopped into ½ inch pieces
2 slices watermelon, grilled and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 cup large blueberries
1 cup strawberries, stemmed and quartered
¼ red onion, minced
½ cup sliced almonds
1 cup brie, cut into ½ inch pieces
Grilled salmon or chicken pieces, if desired
Apricot balsamic dressing (see above) as desired
Assemble salad in pretty, shallow bowl. Top with protein of your choice such as grilled salmon or chicken, sliced or broken into bite-size pieces. Drizzle with dressing and serve as a side salad or a meal. Makes two salads.
Avocado Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
4 ripe avocados
1 cup heavy cream
⅔ cup honey (local, such as Virginia Bee Company, if available)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
⅔ cup mini chocolate chips
Add all ingredients except for the chocolate chips into your Vitamix (or other high-powered blender). Process until smooth. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine. Pour into a freezer safe container and freeze at least four hours or until it has the consistency of ice cream. Remove from freezer 5-10 minutes before scooping.