Cilantro Shrimp and Avocado Salad – Fresh flavors and bright colors make this a fabulous light meal. Perfect for potlucks, warm weather, and healthy eating. (Gluten free & paleo friendly!)
Our family seems to fall in love with a kind of food during the last few summers. We had a smoothie summer, then a homemade popsicle summer, and this summer seems to be the summer of salad. We’ve been majorly digging fresh, cold salads that feel light enough to eat on a hot summer evening, and substantial enough to satisfy.
Light, bright, and fresh, it’s just a really lovely blend of textures and flavors. The cilantro lime vinaigrette you make for the shrimp adds so much freshness, and paired with bright tomatoes and creamy avocado, it’s a flavor match made in heaven!
If you’re not into cilantro, you can do the same thing with basil, dill, or flat-leaf parsley. They both add freshness and brightness that really keep this feeling light.
As for the salad base, I used gluten free orzo for the photos, but this works equally well with cooked, cooled quinoa (for more nutrients) or a giant bed of leafy greens (which makes it a perfect paleo & Whole30 approved meal). Use what you love, and get cooking! This cilantro shrimp and avocado salad is calling your name!
NOTES ON THE RECIPE:
- You know I’m all about that base. You can build this salad over orzo (I used this GF orzo for the photos), cooked and cooled quinoa, or a giant bed of leafy greens. Use what you like and what fits your dietary needs. (If made on greens, this is Whole30 approved!)
- Make ahead notes… You can cook the shrimp for this salad a few hours ahead of time, but I’d hold off on assembling it or making it much more in advance than that because it won’t keep super well in the fridge.
- Change up the veggies! You can use your favorites here. Mixing and matching always makes things fun. I love the mix of bright tomatoes and creamy avocado, but you can also stir in grilled corn, some black beans, diced jicama, bell pepper, or cucumber.
- De-Vein Shrimp. If you’re new to preparing shrimp, you can buy it already deveined and shelled (most places keep the tails on but remove the rest of the shells). If you’re doing it on your own, remove the shell, then look on the back of the shrimp. If you see a thin blue-ish, grey-ish line, that’s the vein. It’s pretty easy to remove with a sharp knife. (This tutorial is helpful)
- Or, go meatless! This salad has SUCH great flavors. Shrimp is a great protein option, but you can also make this an amazing meatless meal by using 1 can of drained and rinsed black beans.
Other Fresh Favorites
- How to Keep Cilantro Fresh
- Taco Pasta Salad
- Shrimp Curry in Creamy Coconut Sauce
- Chinese Chicken Salad (Paleo friendly!)
- Steak Salad with Avocado Green Goddess Dressing
For shrimp & vinaigrette:
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and de-veined (thaw if frozen)
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 3-4 Tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
For the salad:
- 4-5 cups salad greens or 3 cups cooked orzo, or cooked quinoa
- 3-4 Tbsp finely minced red onion
- 1 1/2 cups halved baby tomatoes
- 1 avocado, diced (pit and peel removed)
- leftover vinaigrette (see above)
For the Shrimp and Vinaigrette:
- In a small bowl, stir together lime juice, 3 Tbsp olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, and cilantro. Add 3-4 Tbsp of vinaigrette mixture to shrimp (place in a shallow dish or zip-top bag to marinate).
- Marinate 5-10 minutes (don’t go longer, or shrimp will start to cook/cure in the lime juice).
- Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Working in batches (so you don’t overcrowd the pan), cook shrimp about 1 minute per side, or until just cooked through. Remove to a bowl or plate and repeat with remaining shrimp.
- To assemble your salad, stir remaining vinaigrette into salad greens, orzo, or quinoa. Top with onion, tomato, cooked shrimp, and diced avocado. Gently stir to combine, and enjoy!