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Shrimp and avocado salad gets dressed up with a zippy herb sauce

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
Shrimp and Avocado Salad With Corn and Tomatoes
Total time:30 mins
Total time:30 mins

I visited a Peruvian restaurant years ago to try its famous roasted chicken (which was excellent), but the dish that captivated me that night, which I have been reflecting on ever since, was the appetizer. It was half an avocado still in its peel, filled with a mound of shrimp salad studded with corn, tomatoes and onion, and smothered in the most mouthwatering cilantro-lime sauce. The sauce was different from the aji verde at the table (which, too, was excellent) — it was brighter with lots of lime and a gentle touch of heat, so there was no need to hold back spooning it over everything. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Here, I turned the unforgettable flavors on that plate into a complete, stunning tower of a meal. For the creamy base layer, I unleashed the avocado from its shell, simply mashing it onto the plate, making it easy to pile high with corn, tomatoes and onion. I used cooked, fresh corn — which I am always looking to make the most of this time of year — but frozen and thawed works, too.

After seasoning that with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of salt, I topped it with four of the biggest shrimp I could find. You could, of course, boil and chill the shrimp yourself, but buying it precooked makes this dish so easy it barely counts as cooking. I try to always keep a bag of frozen cooked shrimp on hand.

Those layers of delicious, nutritious ingredients become a stage for the real star here: the sauce, which is easily made by blending handfuls of cilantro with scallion, a little serrano pepper and garlic, lime juice, a splash of vinegar, and olive oil and mayonnaise. It comes out creamy and gorgeously green, ready to be spooned over this tower of shrimp, vegetables and avocado, or just about anything else you can imagine, from simply grilled chicken, fish or vegetables to sliced tomatoes or boiled potatoes. Considering how unforgettable this sauce is, and how much you can do with it, you might want to make a double batch.

Shrimp and Avocado Salad With Corn and Tomatoes

NOTE: If using fresh corn, you’ll need about two ears to get 1 cup of kernels. The corn should be cooked and chilled.

To boil your own shrimp, bring a medium pot of generously salted water to a boil. Quarter a lemon, squeeze it into the water and then drop it into the pot. Add the shrimp, reduce the heat to medium-low and poach until the shrimp turns pink and curled, 2 to 3 minutes. Slice one shrimp open to see that it is opaque throughout, then drain and spread on a platter to cool. (The cooking time will vary with the size of the shrimp.)

Storage: The shrimp can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; the sauce for up to 4 days.

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For the sauce

  • 2 cups (2 1/2 ounces) packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 2 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
  • Water, as needed

For the salad

  • 2 ripe avocados (11 ounces total)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted and chilled (see NOTE)
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined, cooked, chilled jumbo shrimp (16-20 count; see NOTE)

Step 1

Make the sauce: In a blender, place the cilantro, scallions, serrano peppers, mayonnaise, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, vinegar and salt and blend on low to combine, then increase to high and blend until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency. Taste and season with additional salt, if needed. You should have a scant 1 cup.

Step 2

Make the salad: Halve, pit and peel the avocados, and place the flesh of 1/2 avocado onto each of the 4 serving plates; mash it with a fork. Top each with 1/4 cup each corn and tomatoes, and some of the red onion, then drizzle each with the lime juice and sprinkle with salt.

Step 3

Place 4 to 5 shrimp on top of each mound, then spoon the sauce over each and serve.

Nutrition Information

Per serving (1/2 avocado, 1/2 cup corn mixture, 4 shrimp and 3 tablespoons sauce)

Calories: 479; Total Fat: 32 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 180 mg; Sodium: 518 mg; Carbohydrates: 23 g; Dietary Fiber: 8 g; Sugar: g; Protein: 26 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

From cookbook author and registered dietitian nutritionist Ellie Krieger.

Tested by Anna Rodriguez; email questions to

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