Shrimp Orzo Salad with Passion Fruit Vinaigrette
Thinking about this weekend's BBQ, I was trying to come up with a make ahead salad that could double as a main course salad. This week I've been working on the recipes from Season 8 of One Plate and shellfish is a staple all along the coast. That gave me the idea of grilled shrimp and I wanted a tangy dressing for the pasta and came up with this Passion Fruit Vinaigrette. You'll notice that there's very little oil in this vinaigrette since it was just too heavy for the pasta and I was going for a light summery dish. The almonds add a nice textural contrast and the chiles add depth to the flavors. If you wait to add the avocado, almonds and vinaigrette until you're ready to serve, you can divide the salad and use it for two meals instead of just one.
1 1/2 pounds large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
4 knob or sweet red tropea onions
2 to 3 banana or Hungarian Wax chiles
1 pound orzo pasta, cooked al dente
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup chopped cilantro plus sprigs for garnish
1 large avocado
1 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
Passion Fruit Vinaigrette
1 1/4 cups passion fruit puree
2/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 1/2 tablespoons mustard
1 to 2 tablespoons agave nectar (if needed)
Preheat the grill to medium- high. Place the shrimp in a large bowl and toss in oil and thread them onto skewers. Sprinkle both sides with salt. In the same bowl, toss the onions and the chiles to lightly coat. Once the grill is hot, place the skewers, the onions and the chiles on grates and cook the shrimp for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Turn the onions to evenly brown on all sides, this should take about 5 minutes. The chiles should take about the same time to roast. Once the shrimp has cooled, remove from the skewers and cut in half lengthwise and chop the onions and the chiles. You can seed the chiles if you wish.
Scoop the shrimp, onions and chiles into a large serving bowl along with the orzo, tomatoes and chopped cilantro. You can stop at this point, wrap and refrigerate the salad until you're ready to serve. Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together the passion fruit puree, grapeseed oil, mustard, agave nectar (if using) along with 1 teaspoon salt. Pour into a resealable container and refrigerate until ready to use.
A half hour before you're ready to serve, peel and dice the avocado and add it to the pasta salad along with 1 cup of the almonds. Pour the vinaigrette over the top and gently fold the ingredients together. Sprinkle the remaining almonds over the top and garnish with the cilantro sprigs.