Kale Caesar Salad with Harissa Grilled Shrimp and Nutty Parmesan Crouton Crumbles

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This salad rocks, you guys. It has four distinct components that have to be concocted – the shrimp, the dressing, the crouton crumble, and then the salad itself. Y’all know I hate multi-component meals (one-pot meals FOR LIFE!) but sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. And you gotta do this.

Harissa is a spicy pepper sauce from South Africa, and it is the quickest, tastiest spicy marinade you’ll ever use. It’s really a sauce for meat, but by tossing it with a bit of olive oil into the shrimp, we make it into a super simple marinade. And it makes the shrimp such a beautiful color.

Spiced shrimp on top of a caesar salad? YEP. It works, trust me. The creamy, parmesan dressing cools down each bite, and the contrast of the creamy, cheesy dressing with the spicy shrimp is pretty phenomenal.

Kale Caesar Salad with Harissa Grilled Shrimp and Nutty Parmesan Crouton Crumbles

Speaking of the dressing – you’ll notice there are NO ANCHOVIES here. Listen, I know anchovies are cool right now. Every cool food writer has her favorite cool brand of cool anchovies. But you know what? Everytime I make a homemade caesar dressing with anchovies, it’s too fishy for me! And I ain’t got time for fishy salad dressings. So forget it. I use worcestershire sauce instead, to still get a bit of funky saltiness, without the straight up FISH flavor. Worcestershire actually has anchovies in the ingredient list, but they’re cooked out so much that they don’t come through as fishy. This dressing is DAMN good.

Let’s talk about the nutty crouton crumbles. You know when you get a massive crouton in your bite of salad, and it’s just kind of impossible to bite through, and ends up cutting the roof of your mouth with it’s craggy edges, and you like it cuz it’s carbs, but you don’t like it cuz it really just wasn’t a very enjoyable experience at all? Totally, you’re with me…right?! Well, my nutty parmesan crouton crumbles solve that issue! You get a crunchy bite of crouton in every bite (instead of just a few big croutons) and it tastes damn good. You stir the nuts and panko together in a skillet over medium heat until everything is golden brown and crunchy, then stir in some parmesan until it coats every nook and cranny. Yum, you guys, YUMMMM!!!

Throw the kale, the dressing, the nutty crouton crumble, and the spicy harissa shrimp into one bowl and you have SALAD NIRVANA!

Kale Caesar Salad with Harissa Grilled Shrimp and Nutty Crouton Crumbles

Servings 2 people

Equipment

  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 blender
  • 1 large nonstick skillet
  • 4 to 6 meat skewers (wooden or steel)
  • An outdoor grill, grill pan, or rimmed baking sheet

Ingredients

Harissa Shrimp

  • ¾ pound peeled, deveined shrimp (doesn’t matter what size, but I like to have about 8 shrimp per person, so a 20-ish shrimp per pound size)
  • 1 tsp harissa sauce (see notes below if you aren’t familiar)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

Parmesan Anchovy-less Caesar Dressing

  • 8 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups grated Parmesan)
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp worcestershire
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Nutty Crouton Crumbles

  • tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup finely chopped nuts (almonds, cashews, macadamia, etc.)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

Kale Salad

  • 1 large head tuscan/dinosaur kale
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large avocado, thinly sliced

Substitutions

  • Shrimp—> use Chicken instead! Cut thighs or breasts up into cubes, marinate, then thread onto skewers. Or, don’t cut it up if you don’t have skewers, grill the whole pieces, then slice up after grilling.
  • Harissa—>use your favorite hot sauce instead!
  • Parmesan—> any hard cheese works. Pecorino romano, manchego, etc. VioLife is a great vegan parmesan.
  • Lemons—> 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or other light colored vinegar.
  • Dijon mustard—> you won’t be able to taste it at ALL, I promise. If you really hate mustard, use 1 tablespoon tahini instead, or just omit it. The mustard and tahini will help give us a creamy texture.
  • Egg yolk—> raw egg freaking you out? It shouldn’t! But you can omit and add another tablespoon of mustard or tahini.
  • Worcestershire—> love anchovies? Use 2 anchovies instead! Hate anchovies AND worcestershire? Swap in soy sauce/tamari/coconut aminos.
  • Garlic—> 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Olive oil—> any neutral oil like grapeseed or avocado oil. Try to avoid extra-virgin olive oil, it’s very strong and will overpower all of the flavors we are creating here.
  • Panko—> any type of breadcrumbs. Have a stale piece of bread sitting around? Throw it in the blender! Boom, breadcrumbs.
  • Nuts—> I really like using pepitas here, but cashews are my second runner up. Pretty much anything but peanuts sounds good to me, but you might love peanuts!
  • Garlic powder—> 1 fresh garlic clove, grated.
  • Kale—> thinly sliced romaine, or another hearty green. Tender greens like arugula or spinach don’t do as well with a thick, heavy dressing like this one.
  • Avocado—> you can omit, but I love the creamy texture with the crunchy crouton crumble.
  • More toppings—> love toppings? Same. Cucumbers, grilled asparagus (grill it alongside the shrimp!), roasted chickpeas, roasted sweet p

Instructions

  • First, let’s marinate the shrimp. Toss 3/4 pound shrimp, 1 tablespoon harissa, 1 tablespoon oiive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. If you have time to pre-marinate the shrimp, that’s a great idea – cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 4 hours. Otherwise, just keep the shrimp at room temperature while you prepare the dressing and salad.
  • To make the dressing: if your Parmesan is in a big block (not pre-grated), chop up 2 ounces (use your kitchen scale to measure!) and throw into a blender. Blend the Parmesan by itself until it’s the consistency of grated Parmesan, 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Add the zest of 1 lemon and the juice of 2 lemons, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 egg yolk, 2 teaspoons worcestershire, and 1 smashed garlic clove to a blender and blend on high until smooth. With the motor running on low, open the lid and slowly pour in 1 cup olive oil to emulsify the dressing. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. You might not need salt at all – Parmesan and worcestershire are salty! Set dressing aside.
  • To make the nutty parmesan crouton crumbles: warm 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup panko and 1/2 cup nuts and stir to coat in oil. Toast, stirring often, for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and stir until the Parmesan melts and clings to all of the breadcrumbs and is nice and toasted, 12 to 20 seconds. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. 
  • To assemble the salad: pull the tough ribs out of 1 large bunch of kale and roll the leaves together like a giant cigar. Slice the kale as thinly as you can, then throw it into a large bowl. Sprinkle with about 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, then use your hands to “massage” the kale until it starts to feel wet in your hands and turns a deep green color.
  • To grill the shrimp: preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Thread 4 to 5 shrimp onto each skewer. You don’t have to use skewers, but they sure do help prevent the shrimp from falling through the grated! Grill shrimp for 2 minutes per side, or until totally opaque.
  • Don’t have a grill or grill pan? Preheat your broiler and place an oven rack on the top rung. Place shrimp skewers on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and broil for 2 minutes per side.
  • Toss in 3 tablespoons of dressing to start, adding more if you like your salad more heavily dressed (like I do). Take a bite, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the salad between 2 to 4 bowls and top with avocado slices, several tablespoons of nutty crouton crumble, and a shrimp skewer or two.
    Enjoy!

Harissa Shrimp

  • ¾ pound peeled, deveined shrimp (doesn’t matter what size, but I like to have about 8 shrimp per person, so a 20-ish shrimp per pound size)
  • 1 tsp harissa sauce (see notes below if you aren’t familiar)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

Parmesan Anchovy-less Caesar Dressing

  • 8 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups grated Parmesan)
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp worcestershire
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Nutty Crouton Crumbles

  • tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup finely chopped nuts (almonds, cashews, macadamia, etc.)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

Kale Salad

  • 1 large head tuscan/dinosaur kale
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large avocado, thinly sliced

Substitutions

  • Shrimp—> use Chicken instead! Cut thighs or breasts up into cubes, marinate, then thread onto skewers. Or, don’t cut it up if you don’t have skewers, grill the whole pieces, then slice up after grilling.
  • Harissa—>use your favorite hot sauce instead!
  • Parmesan—> any hard cheese works. Pecorino romano, manchego, etc. VioLife is a great vegan parmesan.
  • Lemons—> 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or other light colored vinegar.
  • Dijon mustard—> you won’t be able to taste it at ALL, I promise. If you really hate mustard, use 1 tablespoon tahini instead, or just omit it. The mustard and tahini will help give us a creamy texture.
  • Egg yolk—> raw egg freaking you out? It shouldn’t! But you can omit and add another tablespoon of mustard or tahini.
  • Worcestershire—> love anchovies? Use 2 anchovies instead! Hate anchovies AND worcestershire? Swap in soy sauce/tamari/coconut aminos.
  • Garlic—> 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Olive oil—> any neutral oil like grapeseed or avocado oil. Try to avoid extra-virgin olive oil, it’s very strong and will overpower all of the flavors we are creating here.
  • Panko—> any type of breadcrumbs. Have a stale piece of bread sitting around? Throw it in the blender! Boom, breadcrumbs.
  • Nuts—> I really like using pepitas here, but cashews are my second runner up. Pretty much anything but peanuts sounds good to me, but you might love peanuts!
  • Garlic powder—> 1 fresh garlic clove, grated.
  • Kale—> thinly sliced romaine, or another hearty green. Tender greens like arugula or spinach don’t do as well with a thick, heavy dressing like this one.
  • Avocado—> you can omit, but I love the creamy texture with the crunchy crouton crumble.
  • More toppings—> love toppings? Same. Cucumbers, grilled asparagus (grill it alongside the shrimp!), roasted chickpeas, roasted sweet p

Notes

Harissa is available at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and on the ethnic aisle of most major grocers.
Author: caroline chambers

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