Shrimp Taco Salad is a stunning main course salad with jumbo Mexican spiced grilled shrimp, homemade tortilla strips, house pickled red onions, and all the fixings on a bed of zesty red cabbage slaw. You’re not going to want dinner to end.
Pull up a fork for #3 in my Main Course Salad Challenge, where I’m sharing hearty main course salads to inspire you to go green once a week this season, and hopefully beyond. Here’s a recap of the recipes so far:
Main course Salad #1 ~ Salmon Cobb Salad
Main Course Salad #2 ~ Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (balela salad)
Loaded doesn’t begin to describe today’s epic shrimp taco salad.
And it’s gourmet from top to bottom starting with an easy homemade slaw dressed with mayo, homemade taco seasoning, and fresh lime juice. The jumbo shrimp are rubbed with the same taco seasoning, and then grilled just until they begin to curl. Fresh veggies, olives, avocado, crumbled cojita cheese, homemade quick pickled red onions, and homemade tortilla strips finish out this meal-worthy salad.
how to prep shrimp for a salad
I like to peel the shrimp but leave the tails on, which is just a personal preference. I think the tails look nice and that way you’ve got a little handle for easy eating.
You can completely peel them, which is more practical, so no one has to fiddle with discarding the tail.
You can also chop the shrimp, but that doesn’t look as nice.
Whichever way you prepare your shrimp, rub it in a little olive oil and taco seasoning before cooking.
how to cook shrimp for salad
Heat a dry grill pan (or regular skillet, cast iron works well) until it is hot and then place the shrimp on the pan in a single layer.
Let them cook, flipping once, until they just begin to curl and turn from translucent to opaque.
Don’t wait until they curl tightly, because they’ll be over cooked.
I make my own homemade taco seasoning ~ it’s so easy!
You probably have all these spices in your cupboard, so this is a quick spice blend to mix up any time you need it. Double or triple the recipe if you use it often.
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground oregano
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
compose your shrimp salad for a gorgeous presentation
Arranging the salad is the fun part.
- Make a bed of slaw across the bottom of your bowl.
- Add each ingredient around the edge of the bowl.
- Center everything with a small jar of extra dressing.
- Tuck in lime wedges and cilantro leaves as accents.
I made some quick pickled red onions because they add so much to the salad and they’re so easy to make. They’re ready to use in just a couple of hours, so I made them earlier in the day.
How to quick pickle onions ~
- Start with very thinly sliced red onions, I use my mandoline slicer to get them to an even 1/8 inch.
- Heat up a mixture of vinegar, water, and spices ~ in this case I just used coriander pods, which are the seed pods of the cilantro plant. Pour the hot liquid over the thin sliced onions and let sit for a couple of hours while the onions soften and ‘pickle’. You can also use a tablespoon of readymade pickling spice if you like.
- You’ll notice the purple color of the onions turns to pink when it hits the vinegar.
- Then cap, refrigerate, and use whenever you want them.
How to make homemade tortilla strips
1. Stack a few corn tortillas, white or yellow, and slice them into thin strips, about 1/3 inch wide. Cut all the strips in half lengthwise. Toss with your fingers to separate the strips.
2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and fry the strips, in batches, tossing almost constantly, for just a few minutes, until they become crisp. Use more oil when necessary to finish all the strips.
3. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.
4. Be sure to make extra because there will be snacking!
- Use grilled chicken, fish (like tilapia) or steak
- A base of romaine lettuce would work in place of the red cabbage slaw
- Use shredded Mexican blend cheese instead of cojita
Shrimp Taco Salad
- 1 small head red cabbage, cored and finely shredded
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup yogurt (or sour cream)
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp taco seasoning
- 1/2 avocado, sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning
- 1 cup tortilla strips
- 1/2 cup pickled red onions
- 1 bunch small spring onions, sliced
- 1/4 cup finely sliced radishes
- 1/4 cup black olives
- 1/3 cup crumbled cojita cheese
- Toss the shrimp with the olive oil and taco seasoning. Heat a pan over medium heat and grill the shrimp just until they are cooked through and curl. Set aside.
- Whisk the mayo and yogurt or sour cream with the lime and seasoning and toss with the shredded cabbage. Layer the cabbage in the bottom of your salad bowl.
- Arrange the shrimp, avocado, tortilla strips, onions, spring onions, radishes, olives, and crumbled cheese over the surface. Serve with the extra dressing on the side.