Elevate this summer prawn salad with an aromatic cilantro chimichurri sauce. Perfect for those balmy alfresco dining afternoons when your family and friends are over for a BBQ!
Why You’ll Love Cilantro Chimichurri Prawn Salad
This salad is for all prawn lovers! Nothing quite beats well pan fried prawns with all their sweetness and flavours of the sea or rivers.
The chimichurri sauce is simply delicious and when served with the freshness of the cucumber, green tomatoes and avocado, the combination pairs really well.
For cilantro lovers, this chimichurri was made for you! A non-traditional ingredient in the scheme of things, the cilantro gives the salad some fragrant, herbaceous notes while also being a little lemony and peppery.
It’s great for al fresco dining with a table filled with the meats’ smokiness from the BBQ or perhaps even a nice grazing menu of cold cut meats, pate and delectable cheese.
The salad is also quite hearty, which means you can devour the whole thing as a main meal for two people if you don’t want to share with a big crowd.
What is Chimichurri?
Chimichurri sauce originates from Argentina. It has been said the Gauchos of the Pampas region invented it.
Traditional chimichurri is made from parsley, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar and red pepper flakes. This green version is called chimichurri Verde.
For the red version, chimichurri Rojo, you can add tomato, dried red chilli, smoked paprika and/or red bell peppers or capsicum.
Over time, many different versions of chimichurri sauce have emerged to cater to the many different preferences. In our chimichurri recipe, we are adding cilantro/coriander and oregano to the recipe.
What Does Chimichurri Taste Like?
This cilantro chimichurri sauce has a strong herbal flavour made aromatic with the garlic and tangy due to the red wine vinegar.
The addition of the jalapeno makes it nice and spicy! You can certainly turn the jalapeno up or down a notch, depending on your heat tolerance.
What is Chimichurri Sauce Used for?
The original intent of the chimichurri sauce was used as a steak sauce. However, chimichurri sauce can be used in numerous ways and for many different dishes.
It can be used simply as a condiment to have on the side to dip into; it can be used as a marinade on fish, seafood and meat or simply to brush or baste onto grilled meats on a BBQ.
Most people will buy the chimichurri sauce in a bottle, but it is so easy to make that there isn’t any need to get a processed version. A dehydrated version is also available, but honestly, our recipe is straightforward to follow.
Some other ways to enjoy chimichurri sauce include:
- Spreading it on bread or pita. Or even bake it on bread.
- Using it as a sauce in rolls, sandwiches and kebabs.
- Basting on meat and/or vegetable skewers for grilling.
- Stir through pasta much like you would with pesto.
- Serving it with eggs for breakfast.
- Mixed into salad dressings.
- Great pizza topping idea.
- Add it with mayonnaise, sour cream or yoghurt to make it a dipping sauce.
How Hot Are Jalapenos?
Most people would associate the heat level of jalapenos as pretty high. But you would be surprised to learn that jalapenos are only considered to be of medium spiciness.
According to the Scoville Scale, which measures how spicy a chilli is, jalapenos only have a Scoville heat unit (SHU) between 2500-8000. This is considered mild as some of the world’s hottest chillies have a SHU of over 1 million!
Now, I’d explain to you exactly how the Scoville scale works but unless you want me to bore you to death, let’s just take it for granted that it’s legit. LOL.
Out of curiosity, I wanted to know what the hottest chilli in the world was. At the time of writing, the hottest chilli to ever be recorded in the Guinness World Records is the Carolina Reaper, from South Carolina, USA.
It has a whopping SHU of over 2 million! It beats the infamous scorpion and puts habaneros to shame.
Flavour/Texture: The chimichurri sauce is herby, zesty and slightly pungent with the use of garlic and shallots.
The jalapenos give it a little bit of a kick. So as not to take away the flavours of the chimichurri and freshness of the seafood, the rest of the produce tends toward a more blander combination.
The tomatoes add to the salad’s juiciness. The avocado makes it creamy, and the cucumber gives more crunch—a very basic combination of fresh produce.
Ease: Nice and easy. The chimichurri sauce is all about dumping the ingredients in a food processor and giving it a good blitz. Pan-fry the prawn/shrimp and add to the rest of the ingredients.
Time: Takes 25 minutes to whip up and includes 5 minutes to pan-fry the prawns/shrimp. They quick quickly so it’s about cooking it to the perfect consistency so that it’s still fresh and bouncy.
Ingredients you’ll need to make Cilantro Chimichurri Prawn Salad:
Cilantro, flat leaf parsley, oregano: All the fresh herbs required to make the chimichurri sauce. You’ll be able to smell all it’s lovely aromas when you give it a good blitz!
Garlic and shallots: Can’t do a good chimichurri sauce without these aromatic alliums. Gives the sauce a real kick which inevitably will permeate through to the salad.
Jalapeno: All authentic Argentinian chimichurri sauce has heat in it. To keep to the colour theme and because I love the flavours, some jalapenos will kick it up a notch.
Red Wine Vinegar: To give it some tartness and to dilute the sauce.
Green tomatoes: I wanted to give the salad a tart component, to the point of astringency, so green tomatoes do the job perfectly.
Avocado: Provides the much needed creaminess it needs. Best to select a firm avocado so it doesn’t get all mushy when tossed through with the warm prawns.
Cucumber: The cucumber gives added crunch and also it’s just a great combination with tomatoes and avocado. Can’t go wrong with those 3 amigos!
Prawns: When eating seafood, it is imperative that you buy the freshest ingredients available. If you can afford to do so, buy them in cutlets, already cleaned and deveined for you.
But if you don’t mind a little work, you can buy them whole and just do it yourself. It is definitely much cheaper to do it that way.
I’d advised against using frozen prawns as it is too crunchy in texture and glassy in appearance. Get beautiful fresh ingredients from your fishmonger or at your market.
Variations and Substitutions
Prawn cutlets: If you’re not able to find fresh cutlets, you can, of course, get unpeeled prawns. Be sure to give it a proper clean by removing the head, peeling it and devein cleanly.
Tomatoes: Understandably green tomatoes are not always easy to get. Any tomatoes will of course do.
Heat level: ½ jalapeno is quite spicy. Adjust accordingly to suit your taste buds. You can even omit it if you’re not a fan of spicy food. Doesn’t have to be a jalapeno either if you can only find regular chilli or if you want to really amp it up and use Carolina Reapers!
Cilantro haters: This is a chimichurri recipe is a cilantro chimichurri sauce. If you really dislike this herb just stick to the traditional recipe and double the parsley.
You may like our collection of salad recipes with no cilantro.
Crustacean allergy: Chimichurri sauce works well with chicken or beef too. For a vegan version, toss it through with some pan fried firm tofu.
Step by step instructions for how to make Cilantro Chimichurri Prawn Salad:
How to Make the Chimichurri Sauce
We’re going to make the chimichurri sauce first as we need it to pan fry the prawns.
Add the cilantro, flat leaf parsley, olive oil, garlic, shallot, jalapeno, oregano, red wine vinegar and salt into a food processor.
Blitz until completely pureed into a sauce.
How to Make the Salad
Cut 3 green tomatoes into medium-sized cubes. Cut the 4th green tomato into 6-8 wedges. This just helps to create some different textures on the plate.
Cut the avocado in half. Discard the skin and the pit. Dice half the avocado into medium-sized cubes. Slice the other half thinly and gently fan it out. Don’t push too hard as it will bruise.
Peel the cucumber. Dice into medium-sized cubes without the seeds.
Coat the prawns with ¾ of the chimichurri sauce. Bring a fry pan to medium heat and add 1 tbsp of avocado oil. Pan fry for 2 minutes on each side.
How to Assemble the Salad
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the diced green tomatoes, avocado and cucumber. Mix gently and place the mixture on one side of the serving platter.
Place the cooked prawns on the other side of the plate.
Place the wedges of green tomatoes around the plate.
Place the avocado fan on top of the salad.
Drizzle some of the cilantro chimichurri sauce on top or serve in a small bowl on the side in case anyone wants more.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Great Main Dishes for This Salad
This Cilantro Chimichurri Prawn Salad deserves a great main recipe. Give these a try:
To continue on the pescatarian route, this pan-fried sockeye salmon recipe is done in a cast iron pan with mustard, honey and wild herbs. So good.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re unable to find peeled prawn cutlets, you’ll have to clean and devein them. If you’ve never done them before, it’s not an arduous task.
Remove the head of the prawn. Remove the legs and shell until you get a clean cutlet. Using a small sharp knife, make an incision along the top curve of the prawn.
The vein will then be exposed. Using the tip of the knife, lift it and pull it out. Give it a good wash and then pat dry.
This salad can be transported for a potluck at a friend’s house.
Make the chimichurri sauce and put it into a jar that will seal well.
When transporting the prawns, ensure it’s chilled with an ice pack.
Pack the avocado, tomato and cucumber separately in containers.
If you’re able to pan fry the prawns at your friend’s house, that would be ideal. If you can’t, no worries either. You can pan fry it at home but would mean it will be a cold salad.
When you’re ready, just assemble it all when it’s time to eat.
Suppose you know you’re going to eat it pretty much when you get there. In that case, this salad will withstand assembly at home and transport well as is.
My preference is that it all gets tossed as close to serving time as possible. It has cucumber which would create a lot of water in the salad and completely dilute the chimichurri sauce.
You can, however, make every component separately ahead of time and then assemble later on.
When I make chimichurri sauce for this salad, I make extra as I know how versatile it is. Chimichurri sauce is excellent with chicken, especially on skewers on a BBQ, spread it on bread with a charcuterie board or stirred through a pasta.
This recipe is a reminder that the one vegetable can be prepared in several different ways for the same dish. Diced and wedged green tomatoes and diced and fanned out avocado just creates another way to present simple ingredients.
Enjoy this prawn salad. It’s fantastic for al fresco dining, with a BBQ or even just as a starter. Either way, this cilantro chimichurri sauce is to die for!
Cilantro Chimichurri Prawn Salad
- 16 prawn, cutlets
- 4 tomatoes, green
- 1 avocado
- 1 cucumber
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Add the cilantro, flat leaf parsley, olive oil, garlic, shallot, jalapeno, oregano, red wine vinegar and salt into a food processor.
- Blitz until completely pureed into a sauce.
- Cut 3 green tomatoes into medium-sized cubes. Cut the 4th green tomato into 6-8 wedges.
- Cut the avocado in half. Discard the skin and the pit. Dice half the avocado into medium-sized cubes. Slice the other half thinly and gently fan it out.
- Peel the cucumber. Dice into medium-sized cubes without the seeds.
- Coat the prawn cutlets with ¾ of the chimichurri sauce. Bring a fry pan to medium heat and add 1 tbsp of avocado oil. Pan fry for 2 minutes on each side.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the diced green tomatoes, avocado and cucumber. Mix gently and place the mixture on one side of the serving platter.
- Place the cooked prawns on the other side of the plate.
- Place the wedges of green tomatoes around the plate.
- Place the avocado fan on top of the salad.
- Drizzle some of the cilantro chimichurri sauce on top or serve in a small bowl on the side in case anyone wants more.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately.
- If you’re unable to get prawn cutlets or perhaps are too expensive, you can buy them as is. Remove the head and be sure to devein the prawns and that they are cleaned thoroughly.
- If you’re unable to find green tomatoes, any tomato will do.
- ½ jalapeno is quite spicy. Adjust accordingly to suit your taste buds. You can even omit it if you’re not a fan of spicy food.
- This cilantro chimichurri sauce can be used for anything, especially on chicken and steaks.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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