When the weather is hot there is nothing better than a cool, creamy, yet substantial salad for a hearty lunch or light supper. Shrimp Pasta Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing has it all going on, and is a meal in a bowl! It also works as a side dish, just use smaller shrimp or cut the larger ones into thirds and mix them into the salad-perfect! (If you're not a seafood fan, use cubes of chicken and cook them with chicken stock rather than fish stock and proceed with the recipe!) The shell pasta cups the dressing, tomatoes, corn, and green onions, and each bite is a flavor bomb. The avocado dressing is bright, surprisingly light, and has just a hint of heat. This is a house favorite-try it at your house; it will be a summertime staple! 4 entree servings, or 6-8 side servings
1 pound pasta shells, cooked and drained
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fish or seafood stock (I keep jars of Better than Broth in several varieties in the refrigerator, including fish, so I can mix up the exact amount that I need for a recipe; it works great!)
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, 20-24 count per pound (I like Tiger shrimp with the tails on for an entree salad) If making this as a side salad or for a group, use smaller shrimp.
1 cup fresh or frozen corn, cooked but still crisp
1 cup ripe, seeded, chopped Roma tomatoes (make sure the seeds and liquid are squeezed out)
5 scallions, thinly-sliced on the bias
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 large avocado, peel and seed removed
1 1/2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon dried chipotle pepper powder
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
After the pasta is cooked and drained, return it to the pot and toss with the 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Spread it out on a sheet pan and refrigerate until completely cold, at least an hour.
In a medium frying pan over high heat, bring the fish stock to a boil. Add the shrimp, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 minutes, stir, re-cover and cook until the shrimp are just pink and curled, don't overcook. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (If you are making this as a side salad, and are using the large shrimp, cut them into thirds or quarters and refrigerator.)
Bring the shrimp cooking liquid in the skillet back to a boil and cook until the liquid is reduced to 2 Tablespoons. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large bowl combine the pasta, corn, tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, and shrimp(if you are making a side salad). Set aside.
In a blender combine the avocado, white wine vinegar, lime juice, reserved cooking liquid, water, yogurt, chipotle pepper powder, and salt. Process until smooth. With the motor running, stream in the olive oil until well combined.
Toss the dressing with the pasta mixture until well coated. For entree salads, place in individual salad bowls lined with lettuce and top with the reserved shrimp. Garnish with additional cilantro and sliced scallions.
To serve to a group or as a side, mix in the reserved shrimp and place in a large bowl lined with lettuce leaves and garnish the top with sliced scallions and cilantro leaves.
Refrigerate until ready to serve, and keep any leftovers refrigerated. Use within 2 days.