A spicy twist on a classic recipe, this shrimp Caesar salad with spinach is made gluten free and given a boost of nutrients with wholesome ingredients. Make it in minutes for a light lunch or easy dinner!
Where Did Caesar Salads Come From Anyway?
Walk into pretty much any restaurant in America, and you’re likely to find some variation of a Caesar salad. Over time, it has become a favorite recipe and go-to option, and for good reason! It’s quick to make, cost-effective, and full of tangy flavors. However, the exact origins of the beloved recipe are unclear.
The first Caesar salad is largely believed to have been created in a small restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico known as Caesar’s Restaurante-Bar. Founded by Cesare (Caesar) Cardini in 1927. As the story goes, the salad came to life on July 4th, 1924 when the restaurant was swarmed with guests and running low on supplies. With a little creativity, Mr. Cardini used what was left in the kitchen to create the infamous Caesar salad. It is said that as a result of the dish’s immense popularity the Cardini family moved to California and patented the dressing.
That’s not where the story ends, though! There have also been claims that Caesar’s brother, Alex, was the real inventor of the dish. Additionally, Paul Maggiora, a business partner of the Sardini’s has also been noted as having claimed to have been the first to toss the salad. Clearly, history has been blurred, and while we may never know the true origins of the popular salad, what we do know is that it’s here to stay and always delicious!
What Makes a Caesar Salad?
According to Merriam-Webster, Caesar salads are defined as being, “a tossed salad usually made of romaine lettuce, garlic, anchovies, and croutons and dressed with olive oil, coddled egg, lemon juice, and grated cheese.” (Source) There are endless variations of the classic recipe, but they nearly all contain these staple ingredients.
That said, for this spicy shrimp caesar salad recipe, we kept the integrity of the flavor of the salad and included many of the primary ingredients with just a few swaps!
Shrimp Caesar Salad with a Spicy Twist!
It’s not exactly the original recipe, but it is delicious (and gluten free)!
For this shrimp Caesar salad, we boosted the nutritional value by making just a few simple swaps, creating a slightly more allergy friendly recipe.
To do so, we:
- Used homemade gluten free croutons.
- Incorporated spinach in addition to romaine for added vitamins, carotenoids, iron, and more!
- Provided an egg-free option using mayo or plain hummus instead.
- Replaced the anchovies with spicy cooked shrimp for a lean, crowd-pleasing protein source.
- Included a variety of chopped veggies to add even more taste, texture, and nutrients.
- Boosted the flavor and antioxidant profile even more with spices like chili powder, onion powder, and more!
An Easy Caesar Salad Recipe Coming Right Up!
Now that we’ve covered why our Caesar salad recipe is different and you’ll know what to expect, we can dive into the individual parts! We split the ingredients into four different components including the shrimp, the croutons, the dressing, and the salad.
How to Cook the Shrimp
In order to save time and be able to multitask in the kitchen, we chose to skip the skillet and bake the shrimp instead. Not only are they quick to make, but they’re also loaded with flavor and perfect for meal prep. We love to whip up a big batch to have on hand for salads, tacos, and more throughout the week!
- Toss the shrimp in olive oil and spices, and arrange them on a baking sheet.
- Then, bake them for 8-10 minutes at 450° Fahrenheit, flipping halfway through cooking. You’ll know they’re done when the tails are golden brown, and the shrimp are opaque.
Pro-Tip: Large shrimp that still have a shell will have the best flavor, but any you can find work. Just make sure they’re uncooked and thawed before baking!
Can I Grill the Shrimp Instead?
Sure! To save time, you could even use leftover shrimp skewers.
Homemade Gluten Free Croutons
We know what you’re thinking. Is it really worth it to make your own croutons? You bet it is! We might be biased, but the texture and taste of the homemade version just can’t be beat! Once you realize how easy they are to make with the instructions below, you’ll never go back to store bought again.
- Toss cubes of gluten free bread with oil, garlic powder, and sea salt, making sure each piece is well coated.
- Spread the bread out on a baking sheet, and sprinkle it generously with Parmesan cheese.
- Toast the bread in the oven at 350° Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes or until it is golden and crispy.
Superior Caesar Salad Dressing
Arguably, the dressing is what defines and sets Caesar salads apart from all the rest. We definitely think so! So, we kept our version simple and as close to the original as possible while also providing a few swaps so everyone can enjoy!
- Press clove garlic, and chop it into pieces.
- Combine the egg yolk, lemon juice, dijon, gluten free Worcestershire sauce, and garlic. Then, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture, and make sure to whisk constantly!
- Once smooth and well combined, mix in freshly grated Parmesan (fresh is KEY HERE otherwise it will clump), salt, and black pepper.
- Spicy option! Add a pinch of cayenne or paprika. Not traditional but oh so delicious!
Is Raw Egg Safe to Eat?
In general, the eggs in Caesar salad dressing are considered safe to eat. We recommend using pasteurized eggs. Some chefs also suggest placing the egg into boiling water for 1 minute before making your dressing.
Tossing Your Salad
Once all of the individual pieces are prepared, it’s time to put your salad together!
1. Wash and dry your greens, and add them to a large bowl along with the other veggies.
2. Add the cooled croutons, shrimp, avocado, and Parmesan shavings on top.
3. Finish off your salad by drizzling the Caesar dressing on top, and toss until everything is well coated!
Admittedly, we loaded this easy caesar salad recipe with tons of taste and texture. However, if you want to elevate it even further, try including some of our favorite (non-traditional) add-ins!
- Grilled Chicken
- Crumbled Bacon
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Cherry Tomatoes
The Perfect Pairings
Whether you serve your spicy shrimp caesar salad as an appetizer or main course, there’s not much it doesn’t pair well with! Some of our favorite additions include: