I. Love. Salad. Especially in the summer when it’s super hot outside and my appetite is very poor because of the blistering heat. Sometimes I just need something light, crisp and refreshing to consume to get my appetite back on track. This kale caesar salad with crunchy pine nuts, lemon zest, salty parmesan and blackened shrimp is the ticket!

I’m not sure when my strong love for salads arose. Believe me, I’ve had some really bad salads before- especially caesar salads. I’m not sure why it is so difficult for some restaurants to prepare a decent caesar salad. Now that I think about it, we did have to make caesar salads with homemade caesar dressing in culinary school… I guess the culinary instructors knew it is a popular salad that people easily f*** up.

Nonetheless, it is so rewarding to make your own dressing from scratch- no matter if it’s a simple vinaigrette or a creamier dressing such as a caesar. I love adding a hardier salad dressing to kale because kale has so much body and it stands up very well against a heavy dressing. The blackened shrimp on this salad gives you the protein you need with very little cook time.

For this recipe you will need:

1 – 2 bunches kale, washed, trimmed & massaged
1 lb peeled & deveined shrimp
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup homemade caesar dressing (or store-bought) recipe follows*
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 lemon, zested
Freshly shaved parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper

Caesar Dressing:

3 oil-packed anchovy fillets, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced & pasted
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg yolk
3/4 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup vegetable or good EVOO
1 Tbsp freshly shaved parmesan

Begin with the caesar dressing.
On a sturdy wooden cutting board, chop the anchovy fillets and garlic clove. Add the salt to the anchovies and garlic and using the side of your knife, (holding blade at an angle away from you) scrape until a smooth paste forms. *You may also use a food processor for this step.*

In a medium stainless steel bowl, whisk the egg yolk, mustard and lemon juice. Add the pasted anchovy & garlic mixture to the egg mixture. Place the bowl on top of a kitchen towel inside of a medium saucepan (this helps hold the bowl without tipping over) and slowly stream the oil into the mixture. You will want a smooth and silky consistency. If you notice the mixture is beginning to resemble mayonnaise, simply add a touch of water.

Next step is kale preparation. If you are new to the kale game, just know that if you are eating it raw, it must be massaged before consumed. This helps break it down as it can be very tough by itself. If you are cooking kale, there is no need to massage it prior.

Cut the kale off the stem and yes, using your hands, massage it until it starts to break down and feel softer. Don’t be afraid to get in there!

Set the kale aside in a large bowl in the refrigerator.
Next, season the shrimp with the chili powder, paprika, chili flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Using a medium sauté pan, heat a very small amount (about 1 tsp olive oil) over medium-high heat. To blacken the shrimp, very little oil is required. Cook the shrimp on both sides for a total of 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Assemble the salad by pouring the creamy caesar dressing over the kale and toss with pine nuts, lemon zest, shaved parmesan and some freshly ground black pepper. Top with the blackened shrimp. Voila!

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