In other words, the best salad ever.
Monday worthy. You know I’m not a big fan of trying to erase the weekend’s pitfalls with salads and quinoa on Mondays, but thiiiiis salad we can make work. It also kind of reminds me of something I’d make at the beach, which kind of reminds me of spring break, which makes me wish so. bad. that I worked in a school-based setting and could have spring break. And summers off. And Christmas off.
You get it.
This salad, though! It’s a really lemony dressing, over baby kale. Kind of like spinach but heartier, not like reg kale in case you hate that. Then it’s the super quickest sweet and sour pickled shallots. Or onions if you don’t have a shallot, whatevs. Then smoky and spicy and salty shrimp crusted in parmesan, which means the cheese gets toasty and almost burnt but intentionally so and is there ANYTHING better than almost burnt but intentionally so cheese?
No, no there isn’t, is the answer you’re looking for.
You start with kale! Then the dressing is garlic, anchovy paste, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. We have a shallot, red wine vinegar, and sugar for the pickles. Shrimp, garlic powder, smoked AND hot paprikas add tons of spice and flavor, then an avocado and a hunk of fancy parm for topping. NOTE. If you don’t have 2 kinds of parmesan just use one, obviously. I just like pieces of the big stuff on top of salads to be fake fancy. It’s a gift.
First, start the pickled shallots. Peel and thinly slice the shallot, and microwave the sugar and vinegar together for 30 seconds to melt the sugar and heat the vinegar – this just makes the shallots pickle a little bit faster.
Toss the shallots with the vinegar mixture and set them aside while you make the rest of the salad.
I like to make the dressing for this right in the bowl I’m going to use – it saves a dish later on! Start with the parmesan, anchovy paste, garlic, and Worcestershire.
Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 the lemon.
Then, whisk the dressing together as you slowly stream in the olive oil. Taste the dressing and add a few pinches of salt or more parmesan if you’d like a creamier dressing – yum!
Onto the shrimp. Preheat a large skillet to medium-high with some more olive oil. We want the pan to be HOT, so allow plenty of time for this.
In a bowl, toss the shrimp with the rest of the parmesan, the paprikas, a sprinkle of salt, and the garlic powder.
When the skillet and olive oil are hot, add the shrimp in one even layer and let them sit – they should sizzle immediately and you’ll smell that glorious toasty cheese smell.
After 2 minutes or when the first side is brown, flip the shrimp and let them finish cooking on side 2. Then, turn the skillet off.
Now it’s just time to assemble everything! I do this while the shrimp are finishing. Add the kale to the dressing, and use tongs to toss it all together. You can grate some extra parmesan and slice the avocado at this point, too.
Then, just top the salad with the shrimp, shallots, avocado, and extra parm, if you’d like.
And that’s it! I like toasty bread with this because when is toasty bread not a good thing?
The flavors hit every. single. note. here, guys. It’s like a cooking competition – sweetness from the shallots, bitter greens with tangy dressing, salty parm, sweet shrimp, and buttery avocado to round everything out. Major food groups are involved, there is lean protein and healthy fats and a superfood, you couldn’t do much to make this salad more perfect.
The parmesan crusted shrimp is super legit, thanks to the paprikas and toasty cheese crust we have. I have ideas for other meals to use this shrimp on, so make it this way first and then add it to your weekly rotation of proteins – it’s really delicious.
Enjoy this one!
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 4 tablespoons grated parmesan, divided, plus more for topping if desired
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cooking the shrimp
- 4 cups baby kale leaves
- 1/2 pound peeled, deveined shrimp
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 avocado, sliced
- salt, as needed
- Combine the red wine vinegar and sugar in a small dish. Stir, and microwave for 30 seconds. Add the shallot to the warm vinegar mixture. Stir to combine and set aside while you make the rest of the salad.
- In a large salad bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons of the parmesan. Keep whisking and slowly pour in the olive oil to make a dressing. Taste, and add more parmesan or a pinch of salt if you'd like.
- Preheat a large skillet to medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. In a bowl, combine the shrimp with the smoked and hot paprikas, garlic powder, and the rest of the parmesan. When the oil in the skillet is very hot, add the shrimp in one layer. Cook for 2 minutes until the parmesan becomes crispy, then flip the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes more until the parmesan is crispy on both sides and the shrimp is cooked through.
- Add the kale to the dressing you already prepared. Toss with tongs, then top the salad with the pickled shallots (drain them first), avocado slices, shrimp, and extra parm, if you'd like. Sprinkle the avocado with a tiny bit of salt, and eat!