Tacos with Spring Greens, Grilled Seafood and Cilantro Vinaigrette
Spring Vegetable Tacos DenaTBray

We turned the calendar to May this morning and boom―the sun came out. With May Day, Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day all on the calendar, there is no reason to wait. Let’s celebrate. New England is coming alive! Bright orange, crisp white and golden daffodils are in bloom along the roadsides. Tiny purple flowers push up through the dirt toward the light. Spring chives, with their delicate flowers, stand tall, proudly becoming the first to sprout through the mulch in the herb garden. Birds sing wake up calls, in tune with the sound of our neighbors working in their gardens and the hum of cyclists whooshing by on the road below. With its fresh scents and warm touch, the air is welcoming on my skin as I write, seated  on the patio Al built for us last fall, just before we put all the gardens to bed.  I love it! I am happy.

What is spring like in your part of the world? What do you like to eat at this glorious change of seasons?

I created these Tacos with Spring Greens, Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro Vinaigrette with Cinco de Mayo in mind. Using our outdoor grill for the first time since last October, the shrimp were quickly grilled then bathed in a light sprinkling of fresh lemon juice and chopped chives.

After toasting tortillas to give them a bit of crunch and smoky flavor, I topped them with spring greens and vegetables―micro-greens, dandelions, spring onions, red peppers, lemon zest―all lightly coated with a cilantro dressing. Garnished with the golden shrimp, these open-faced tacos are fit any celebration you choose.

Viva México! Viva spring!

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.




Yield: 4 Servings


For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves―rinsed, dried and finely minced
  • Pinch dried cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the shrimp:

  • 4 bamboo or metal skewers
  • 16 large shrimp―rinsed, peeled and deveined
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Handful fresh chives, finely chopped

For the tacos:

  • 4  8-inch tortillas (whole wheat, white flour or gluten-free)
  • 1 cup spring greens, such as dandelion greens, mesclun mix or micro-greens―rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup assorted fresh vegetables, such as spring onions, sprouts, red bell-peppers or   tomatoes―trimmed as needed, rinsed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, rinsed and dried
  • Grated zest of one lemon
  • ½ lemon―rinsed and cut into paper-thin slices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Make the vinaigrette by placing the mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk together. Continue whisking while slowly drizzling the olive oil into the mixture. Whisk until the oil is fully incorporated. Add the pinch cumin, minced cilantro leaves, salt and freshly ground pepper. Whisk one more time and set aside.
  2. Preheat your grill to high.
  3. Place the shrimp on skewers, 4 to each skewer, and brush with olive oil. Grill the shrimp until they are golden on the outside and cooked through on the inside, about 5 minutes. (You will want to turn them at least once during the grilling process.)  Remove from the heat, but leave the grill on. Place the shrimp on a plate. Drizzle with lemon juice, sprinkle with chopped chives, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Carefully place  the tortillas on the grill. (You can do them all at once or one at a time, depending on the size of your grill). Using a heat-proof spatula, flip them once. Leave them on the grill for just a few seconds on each side to toast them a bit. Place one tortilla on each of 4 dinner plates.
  5. Place all the prepared vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  6. To assemble the tacos, divide the dressed salad greens between each of the 4 tortillas. Remove the cooked shrimp from the skewers, place 4 on each of the salads.
  7. Serve and enjoy.


  1. These are open-faced tacos. To make more traditional taco, place the ingredients on half of the prepared tortilla and fold over the unfilled side to form a pocket around the ingredients.
  2. To make a vegetarian dish, leave off the shrimp. Add grilled cubes of tofu in its place.
  3. To make a heartier dish,  use grilled beef, chicken or pork instead of the shrimp.
  4. To serve family style or at a party buffet, prepare the shrimp and tortillas as directed. Place them on a serving platter. Put the vinaigrette in a small pitcher and all the remaining ingredients in small serving bowls. Allow your family to fill and dress their tacos as they like, just before eating.

Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at www.denatestabray.net. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.