Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Red Wine Vinegar Slaw & Avocado Salsa

I’m obsessed with the little Honduran restaurant here in town called Izzy’s. It is positively delightful to have authentic flavors for inspiration!

Yes, I said positively delightful. See what a pleasant mood good food puts me in? Anyway, I’d been meaning to try to copy the slaw that tops most of the tacos at Izzy’s. It is crunchy, tangy, and this awesome shade of pink.

I also recently had a request for my blackened seasoning. I used shrimp, but try it on fish, chicken, anything. It is only slightly spicy (but enough so that my toddler rejects it – I just cook hers in butter with no seasoning). To get the right flavor, use butter, not oil, for cooking the blackened meat!

Before I do any more talking, I want to make sure you’re not intimidated by all the moving parts: the only real cooking here is the shrimp. Everything else is just chopped and stirred and marinated for awhile. So make this, it is easy and you will love it.

This recipe is a combo of old and new, spicy and tangy, creamy and crunchy.

And delicious and delicious.

I  seem to love italics today.

I decided to add avocado salsa to balance the strong blackened and vinegar flavors. You could just dice up some avocado and throw it on top, but what fun is that? I didn’t have any, but adding corn to this salsa is not only authentic, it also completes the flavor spectrum by adding sweet. Ahhh.

Corn tortillas are typically used, but if you like flour better that will work too. You’ll make fewer tacos since flour tortillas are larger, though.

If you want to go all out, make my avocado-cilantro ranch dressing and drizzle that on top. Good Lord ah’mighty. Or actually, ay Dios mio.

Serve these with tortilla chips so your guests can scoop up whatever falls out of the tortillas and onto their plates! And maybe some rice too, here’s my MSG-free yellow rice recipe.

P.S. Don’t have red wine vinegar? If you have apple cider vinegar, try topping these tacos with my Costa Rican Slaw recipe instead!

P.S.S. I was not kidding when I said I’m obsessed with Spanish food.

shrimp

 

shrimp1

Look how pretty it is! Don’t like seafood? Make it with chicken. Just sayin.

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Red Wine Vinegar Slaw & Avocado Salsa

  • 1 pound large peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 lime
  • 8-10 yellow or white corn tortillas, or flour tortillas

blackened seasoning mix:

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (or use regular if you don’t want the smoky flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • pinch of salt

for the slaw:

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lime or lemon

for the avocado salsa:

  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4-1/3 cup sweet corn kernels (optional)

Start by making the slaw 1-2 hours ahead of time: in a bowl with a tight fitting lid, mix all 4 ingredients together well. Cover and refrigerate, stirring slaw every 30 minutes. Slaw will soften and turn pink when it’s ready. The longer you let it sit in the vinegar, the stronger the flavor will be.

Next, make the avocado salsa. Mix all ingredients gently in a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Measure out the seasonings for the blackening mix and stir well. Put the shrimp in a large zip top bag and add half the seasoning. Seal and toss to coat. Add more seasoning to your liking – we use it all!

Heat a dry skillet to very, very hot (just leave it on high) and brown the tortillas one at a time, about 1 minute per tortilla. Keep them warm in a towel. If you’re using flour tortillas, wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave until warm, 20-30 seconds.

Turn heat off and move skillet to another burner. Let cool 5 minutes.

Return skillet to burner and heat on medium. Add butter, and when melted, add shrimp. Cook quickly, constantly tossing shrimp, 2-3 minutes. Squeeze the lime over them. Remove skillet from heat and immediately assemble tacos.

[Alternatively, you could grill the shrimp, in which case you’ll need melted butter to douse them with while they cook!]

Use 3-4 shrimp per taco. Drain vinegar before serving slaw. Top with a spoonful of avocado salsa. Serve with hot sauce or my avocado-cilantro ranch dressing. Enjoy!

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Southwest Salad with Avocado-Cilantro Ranch Dressing

The super easy fried chicken salad I made recently seemed to be pretty popular, so I’m going to beef up my salad menu! I have quite a few I’ll share with all of you!

How about a Southwest salad? Since I always have cilantro and the like in my fridge. (no, really I do!)

You can find the tortilla strips right next to the croutons in your grocery store. They add both color and flavor!

And it sounds super fancy to make your own dressing, but here’s what I do: buy the base pre-made (your favorite ranch dressing) and add ingredients to make it your own. Awesome, right?

Totally. I’m here to help you look as fancy as possible.

By the way, since football season has now started, try dipping your wings in this dressing. Or put it on these tacos. Oh, yes.

Southwest Salad with Avocado-Cilantro Ranch Dressing

  • 1 pound fresh chicken tenderloins or strips (6-8 count)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper

for assembly:

  • 1 cup cooked corn kernels
  • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • lettuce of your choice (I used a bag of the pre-cut butter lettuce, used a little more than half the bag for 2 salads)
  • 1 avocado, halved
  • 1/2-3/4 cup shredded Monterey jack or 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • crispy tortilla strips (next to the croutons in your grocery store)

for the dressing:

  • 2/3 cup of your favorite ranch dressing
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (just throw the stems and everything in)
  • juice of 1/2 lime

Make the dressing ahead of time and refrigerate to chill it down. It’ll last a week or so. This recipe makes way too much for two salads, but unless you have one of those mini food processors, this is the only way to get it to blend right! Use it as a dip for wings or a topping for tacos.

Add all ingredients for the dressing to a food processor or blender. Blend continuously until creamy, about a minute. Move to an airtight container and refrigerate.

Heat the butter in a large pan over high heat. Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides. When the pan’s hot, throw it in. Turn the heat down to medium after 30 seconds, and let cook for 5 minutes per side.

While the chicken cooks, assemble the salad. On 2 large plates, divide enough lettuce to cover the plate. Add the black beans and corn evenly between the two, then place half an avocado on each salad. Sprinkle cheese and tortilla strips.

Add the hot chicken to the salad. Sprinkle with cilantro and dressing. Enjoy!


Classic Guacamole

It doesn’t get much better than guacamole…creamy, buttery avocados mixed with what is essentially salsa ingredients.  This is one of my heavenly foods.

There are lots of guac recipes out there, but I felt my website wouldn’t be complete without my version, as much as we eat it.  And a visit to my grocery store today led me to the first decent-looking avocados in a few months.  They were finally not hard as rocks.  Time to make some delicious guacamole!

I’m going to keep this simple:  You need lots of avocadoes – I didn’t weigh mine (sorry), but they were 5 normal-sized Haas avocados, maybe about 2 pounds before peeling/pitting.  You also need lots of fresh cilantro, and some Roma tomatoes (they have a lower water content and do much better in salsas and guacamole).  Chop everything small, and the garlic smaller.

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We like chunky avocado, but I’m pretty sure it’s more traditional to mash the avocados smooth.  It’s like a competition to see who can fish out the big chunks, with the lucky hunter raising his or her tortilla chip with a victorious, “haHA!”.  We also do this with blue cheese dressing.

Normally I’d also have put a fresh jalapeno in the guac.  I forgot to buy one today, though.  Do it if you’re adventurous!

Here’s the recipe!

Classic Guacamole

yield about 6 cups.

  • 5-6 medium-large ripe Haas avocados, quartered, peeled and pitted
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 medium red onion, diced small (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced (about 1/8 cup packed)
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes, diced small (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • ​1 jalapeno pepper, chopped fine (remove the seeds for less heat)
  • salt and pepper to taste

​In a large bowl, put the quartered and peeled avocados.  Squeeze the juice of half a lime over the top, add a little salt, and mash to your preferred consistency.

Add rest of ingredients and stir gently to combine.  Taste for salt, add more if needed.

Serve immediately, or cover tightly, refrigerate and serve within a few hours with tortilla chips or veggie slices like carrots and cucumbers.  Top tacos, salads, or anything else with this mix as well.  Enjoy!