I was introduced to this dish by my mother-in-law and it is one of my favorite dishes that she makes. According to her, it was straight off the menu of the Royal Orleans Hotel in New Orleans when she worked there before having children. I loved this dish so much that I asked her to make it for my wedding shower. It was such a hit that she made it again for my baby shower 4 years later.
I’m convinced this is the perfect addition to any shower buffet or ladies lunch. It is elegant and refreshing while also being hearty and satisfying. And the pink and green color combo happened to perfectly match my wedding colors. Haha!
My mother-in-law’s version uses bottled Thousand Island dressing and jarred grapefruit segments. You could also purchase pre-cooked shrimp to make this one of the easiest dishes for a crowd ever. Since I am working towards a real food diet, I decided to make my dressing from scratch. After looking up recipes for Thousand Island, I was drawn to Ina Garten’s version. I loved the addition of the capers – the brininess(yay, it’s a real word) from the capers complements the sweetness of the relish. Many other recipes included chopped white onion, so I might add a small diced shallot next time.
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced capers
- 1 heaping Tablespoon sweet relish
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 lb medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, with the head and tail removed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 red grapefruits, segmented and then cut into chunks
- 1 1/2 ribs of celery, finely diced
- 2 cups raw baby spinach
- 2 avocados, cut into chunks
- Add the mayonnaise, ketchup, capers, sweet relish and lemon juice to a medium bowl and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cook the penne in a large pot of salted boiling water, according to package instructions. Drain and set aside to cool.
- In a large nonstick pan, heat the olive oil to med-high. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the shrimp to the garlic and oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the shrimp is pink and has just turned opaque. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the pasta, shrimp, grapefruit, celery and spinach.
- Add 1/2 cup of the Thousand Island dressing and toss to coat. Add more dressing as needed to suit your taste (I used about 3/4 of a cup).
- Add the avocado and gently mix with the rest of the salad. Serve immediately.
Thousand Island Dressing recipe was adapted from Ina Garten
You could easily prepare this dish in advance if you were entertaining. I would prep all of the ingredients separately and then combine just before serving, though the avocado should be cut just before serving to avoid browning. Any leftovers will last for a few days, though you may have to add more dressing since the pasta will soak it up.
I enjoyed this for lunch on a beautiful spring day and, as you can see, Sophie was really hoping something would drop off my fork for her.
Enjoy! What is your favorite dish to serve for your girlfriends?