Last Thursday was a beautiful day in the desert, and the night was even more so. Steve and I decided to have dinner on the back patio and then light the outdoor fireplace. We were going for a meal on the lighter side, so I chose a southwest grilled shrimp Caesar salad, along with some crusty French rolls. The salad was so amazing I knew I just had to share it here with you.
Most everyone loves a good Caesar salad. But if you are like me, you only order it at restaurants. At least that is how I used to be. After all, a REAL Caesar salad has the whole raw egg, olive oil, anchovy thing going on. Much too complicated to make at home, right? And I definitely did not like the bottled stuff sold at the store. Like bottled Ranch dressing, bottled Caesar dressings tasted almost chemically to me from the preservatives.
But my son Matt loves Caesar salad, probably more than any other salad around. And he was such an enthusiastic salad eater, even as a little boy, that I always tried to reward him by making his favorites. That meant I had to start making Caesar dressing at home. And guess what? The one I have settled on, after much experimentation, is very easy to make and tastes very authentic to everyone who has had it. Matt declared it a success, and I think you will too.
So, treat yourself and your family to a restaurant-quality southwest grilled shrimp Caesar salad that is not only easy to make, but super fast!
let’s see what goes into making this southwest grilled shrimp Caesar salad
Except for the anchovy paste, this is all regular household stuff that when combined, makes a beautiful Caesar salad. The anchovy paste is optional, although I think it adds a briny freshness that enhances the flavor. But some people can be really squeamish about anchovies. If that sounds like you, then don’t use it. The Worcestershire sauce does a reasonable job of adding that little bit of something Caesar.
I tear the romaine by hand, and I like the pieces to be a little large so that they pair well with the shrimp, which are a little large as well.
The grilled shrimp just needs a little olive oil and some southwest seasoning. I like to make my own rub, which I also use for fajitas. I’ll include the rub recipe with the salad recipe below. But if you don’t want to make your own rub, just use your favorite southwest seasoning mix.
Season the shrimp and let it sit on the counter while you mix the salad dressing. That way the shrimp can soak in the yumminess a bit.
Then mix the dressing ingredients and store it in the fridge until you are ready to dress the salad.
If you live in the Arizona desert or other moderate winter area, you can grill year around. But I know some of you can’t grill in winter. If you are in a cold climate and cannot be cajoled, bribed, or threatened to go outside and grill some shrimp, just cook them up really quickly in a heavy skillet. Cook them at medium-high heat in a single layer, just a couple of minutes per side and they will be just as beautiful.
When your shrimp are cooked, toss your romaine pieces with some dressing. Use only as much as you like, which means you may have some left over. I don’t like it too thick. Just a light coating. If you invest a bit of time in tossing it well, you’ll see that a little dressing goes a long way.
Then top with some fresh ground black pepper, a sprinkle of Parmesan, add the shrimp and voilà! Just that quick and easy, you have a beautiful and delicious salad that you made with very little effort! Who needs restaurant Caesar salads when you can deliver chef-quality stuff like this in your own kitchen?
There’s nothing left to do except dig in! Go on! Enjoy!
- FOR THE SHRIMP
- 1 pound large shrimp
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons southwest style seasoning mix
- FOR THE SW SEASONING MIX
- 1 teaspoon Adobo All Purpose Seasoning
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- ¾ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (or more, to taste)
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- FOR THE CAESAR SALAD
- 8 cups romaine lettuce hearts, roughly hand torn
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream (can substitute milk)
- Salt (optional)
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Season the shrimp and let it sit at room temperature to marinate until the salad dressing is done.
- Mix the salad dressing ingredients and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Tear the romaine by hand into a large bowl. 8 cups are approximately 2 heart sections.
- Preheat a grill or heavy skillet to medium-high heat.
- Cook the shrimp in single layer, about two minutes on each side or until pink and well caramelized.
- Toss the romaine with the desired amount of dressing.
- Plate the salads and top with some freshly cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.
- Finally, top with cooked shrimp and serve.