Luckily for me, I LOVE weddings. It may come as a shock to some of you, but I happen to be quite a romantic. Seriously. I’m a total sucker for handwritten vows (even when they’re awkward), grooms crying (tears=true love!), magical settings, expensive white dresses, and fairy lights of any kind. Needless to say, I also enjoy events where champagne is a staple and cake is guaranteed. Sign me up.
This past weekend, my wonderful friend Charlotte got married on Cape Ann. Although I had been looking forward to the weekend, I felt slightly skeptical about the event based on a very disturbing line in the invitation: Ladies please wear flats. As high heels make most of my outfits, I was not even close to on board with this rule, and it definitely put a damper on my expectations. What kind of a party forbids fancy footwear?
Fortunately, my fears of a disastrous wedding were unfounded, and the event was flawless. Unbeatable weather, gorgeous setting, and a short and sweet ceremony, which I always appreciate. Cocktails flowed seamlessly into dinner, dinner into dancing, and dancing into classy late night skinny dipping in the quarry. Every single guest appeared to be suspended in a bubble of blissful happiness for the entire evening.
I also caught the bouquet, which, much to my surprise, made me an instant wedding celebrity. Maybe it was my raw athleticism or the photo shoot that my friend Maisie and I staged post-catch, but people congratulated me all night and gave me random compliments. It was awesome. Had I known that catching the bouquet would garner so much attention, I would have tried harder at past weddings. Hindsight is 20-20.
While there were many fabulous things about Saturday night, the best part of the wedding (other than witnessing true love, of course) was the food, which was unreal. I don’t usually eat passed hors d’oeuvres at parties for several reasons, including, but not limited to: restrictive clothing, lack of free hands, getting things stuck in my teeth, and setting a good example for Logan. However, high on champagne and post-bouquet toss fame, I threw caution to the wind and shamelessly crushed a disturbing amount of finger foods, many of which I plan to recreate in the near future. There were sesame-studded pigs in a blanket, unbelievable lobster salad on homemade potato chips, and some heavenly beef tenderloin crostini that practically melted in my mouth. It was magical.
The finger food frenzy was followed by a giant appetizer of burrata with heirloom tomatoes and balsamic, and dinner was provided in the form of slider and burrito bars that were probably the most epic additions to a wedding that I have ever encountered. I only wish Logan had been there. I would have paid to see his reaction upon discovering the table of pulled pork sliders. (For some reason, I keep picturing Will Ferrell screaming “SANTA!!! OH MY GOD!!!” in Elf.)
Anyhoo, I ate, I drank, I carried my bouquet, and I danced my little heart out in celebration of the beautiful bride and glowing groom. It was a ridiculously perfect night. I even came to appreciate the no-heels rule, which turned out to be a genius idea. I had greater stability post-cocktail hour, I was more comfortable on the dance floor, and I felt surprisingly petite and feminine in my flats. Great success.
As you would expect, No-Calorie Sunday tends to take on a particularly impressive bent in the wake of a wedding, and this past Sunday was no exception. I don’t want to get into it because it makes me feel anxious/nauseous, but things got weird (especially considering the amount of food consumed at the actual wedding). I woke up Monday morning tired, bloated and still sore from my dance moves on Saturday night, making it clear that I could use several salads and possibly a personal trainer to prevent my body from shutting down after using my muscles for simple things like wedding dancing. Since I am not yet in a position to afford the latter, I settled for salad-making.
I have several fabulous go-to salads in my repertoire, such as the miraculous Detox Salad, Mediterranean Chopped Salad, and California Salad with Roasted Chicken, but I have yet to share my personal favorite with you: Summer Salad with Avocado, Corn and Grilled Herb Shrimp.
Summer Salad tastes exactly as it sounds…like summer. Packed with baby lettuces, grilled sweet corn, juicy cherry tomatoes, and buttery avocado, this salad is light, bright and full of fresh flavor. The delicate sweetness of the shrimp is enhanced by a citrusy herb marinade, which is a foolproof combination of lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, and chopped basil and parsley, that also doubles as the salad dressing (so efficient!).
The whole shebang only requires about 20 minutes of hands-on time, and it’s more than worth it. Trust me. If cooking for one is your current jam (not everyone can catch the bouquet), this salad is for you. The shrimp tastes delicious cold, and you can dress individual servings of salad whenever the mood strikes you. Plus, you only need a grill/grill pan, a cutting board and a bowl for this recipe, which means that cleanup is practically nonexistent. Booyakasha.
Full disclosure, I will most likely eat this salad daily until my next wedding (which is in T-9 days). I am actually looking forward to what I shall call “The Summer Salad Wedding Recovery Plan.” (Thankfully, my roommate is out of town, so I won’t have to worry about anyone killing my salad vibe.) I’m not even stressed about the friends that I have coming to dinner over the next week and half because this salad is incredibly versatile. It’s simple enough to be a weekday staple, yet impressive enough to serve to guests. With some good bread and a bottle of white wine or rose, it’s the perfect summer meal for casual entertaining. I also like the idea of serving this at picnics and barbecues, or as a family-style appetizer. Just throwing that out there.
Summer Salad with Avocado, Corn and Grilled Herb Shrimp: (Serves 4)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I like to leave the tails on, but it’s your call.)
4-6 metal or bamboo skewers
2 ears corn, husked
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 ounces mesclun or baby lettuce mix
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 ripe avocado, diced
For the marinade/dressing:
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
¼ teaspoon salt
Preparing your Summer Salad with Avocado, Corn and Grilled Shrimp:
*If you are using bamboo skewers, make sure to soak them in water for at least 20 minutes. Do not forget to do this, people, or your skewers will catch fire on the grill. Party foul.
-Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade/dressing in a small bowl. Set aside 1/3 cup of the mixture to dress the salad before serving.
-Place the shrimp skewers in a large Ziploc bag and pour the remaining marinade over them. Seal the bag (removing any excess air) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The longer you marinate your shrimp, the better it will taste. Duh.
-While your shrimp is marinating, grill the corn. Heat a grill/grill pan over medium heat. (You can also obviously use a plain old sauté pan to cook your corn if you don’t have a either of these things.)Brush the corn with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt. When the grill is hot, add the corn and cook for 10-12 minutes, rotating regularly until the corn is tender and nicely browned all over. Remove corn from the pan and let cool.
-When your shrimp has finished marinating, remove your skewers from the fridge. Heat the grill/grill pan over high heat. When hot, add the shrimp skewers and cook for 1½-2 minutes on each side until the shrimp become pink and opaque.
-In a large bowl (or on a platter), combine the mesclun, corn, red onions, cherry tomatoes and avocado. (Make sure to add the avocado only if you are serving immediately because it will turn an unattractive shade of brown.)
Ingredients Instructions Notes You may serve your grilled herb shrimp warm, room temperature or cold, depending on your preference.
You may serve your grilled herb shrimp warm, room temperature or cold, depending on your preference.
As always, I’m thrilled to be a part of Food Network’s Summer Fest this week. For more badass recipes featuring avocado, check out the amazing blogs below.
Feed Me Phoebe: Kale Salad with Avocado, Cranberries and Peptias
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Smoked Avocado Tomato Salsa Guacamole
Weelicious: Avocado Honey Dip
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Avocado Green Goddess Dressing
Red or Green: Avocado and Cilantro Pesto with Whole Wheat Penne
Blue Apron Blog: Avocado Tartines with Goat Cheese
Dishin & Dishes: Creamy Avocado Citrus Dressing, No Cream, No Oil
The Heritage Cook: Summertime Vegetable Stuffed Avocados
And Love It Too: Sugar-Free Avocado Fudgesicles
Haute Apple Pie: Avocado BLT Egg Salad
Daily*Dishin: Colorful Sweet Pepper-Avocado Salsa
Devour: No-Cook Avocado, Shrimp and Mango Salad
Taste With The Eyes: Zucchini “Pappardelle” with Avocado “Cream”
FN Dish: 10 Audacious Guacamole Add-Ins