Shrimp Cobb Salad with Creamy Basil Dressing
Looking for a light and refreshing salad? Try this Shrimp Cobb Salad with a little tropical flair from mangoes and the salty bite of cotija cheese.
Photography Credit:Sally Vargas
We all love the traditional Cobb Salad made with lettuce, bacon, avocados, cooked chicken, hard-boiled eggs, and blue cheese dressing, but sometimes you just gotta break the rules.
This version of Cobb Salad keeps the spirit of the familiar assembled plate of vegetables and protein, but subs in a variety of new elements. Large cooked shrimp stand in for the chicken; we lose the hard-boiled eggs, but we keep the bacon, avocados, and tomatoes.
Cucumbers add a refreshing crunch, and the tropical addition of mango adds just a touch of sweetness. I finish the whole thing off with a salty, crumbly Mexican cheese called cotija and basil dressing.
Not only does this salad scream summer, but the dressing ties all the flavors together with its herby, creamy essence.
HOW TO BUY SHRIMP
Since ‘fresh’ shrimp is pretty much nonexistent because almost all shrimp are frozen immediately after harvest, I always pick up frozen shrimp.
That shrimp in the seafood case at the supermarket? It is simply frozen shrimp that has been defrosted.
Shrimp is quite perishable, and there’s no way to know how long ago it was thawed. For that reason, I like to buy frozen shrimp and defrost it myself when it’s time to cook (plunk it in a bowl of cold water for 15 minutes).
For this recipe, I prefer large (16-20 per pound) shrimp to small ones because I like the statement they make on the plate (and there are fewer to peel, too!). You can also just purchase cooked and peeled shrimp of any size and skip the cooking and peeling.
HOW TO COOK SHRIMP
To cook shrimp, follow one hard and fast rule: Do not boil them! Delicate proteins in shrimp seize, shrink, and become rubbery when subjected to high temperatures.
To poach shrimp, the water temperature should be between 165 and 175 degrees, the temperature obtained after you drop cold shrimp into simmering liquid.
If you want to cook a lot of shrimp, do it in batches of about one pound each to ensure even cooking.
The shells of unpeeled shrimp do the best job of protecting the shrimp from overcooking. If you’re cooking peeled shrimp, subtract a minute from the cooking directions in this recipe.
HOW TO SERVE THE SALAD
An assembled salad has a lot of eye appeal. For a serious wow factor, arrange the ingredients on a platter in the pattern of your choice and serve the dressing on the side. The individual components don’t have to line up like soldiers, so let those creative juices flow.
If you want to make the salad ahead, you can pack each element in containers, refrigerate them, and assemble the salad just before serving. They will keep in the fridge for at least a day, though you might want to cut the avocado shortly before serving to keep it from turning brown.
Use the same strategy if you are planning a picnic, and bring along a platter to set up your pretty salad display.
MORE SUMMER-READY SALADS!
- Farmers’ Market Salad with Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Basil
- Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce
- Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad
- Lentil Salad with Summer Vegetables
- Classic Cobb Salad
Shrimp Cobb Salad with Creamy Basil Dressing Recipe
For the creamy basil dressing:
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
- 1/3 cup olive oil
For the salad:
- 1 pound large (16-20 per pound), shell-on shrimp, thawed
- 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
- 2 sprigs parsley
- 4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into slices
- 2 small heads baby romaine lettuce, or other crisp lettuce, torn into pieces
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 small avocados, sliced
- 2 small yellow mangoes, peeled and diced
- 2 Persian cucumbers, sliced
- 8 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled
1 Make the dressing: In a food processor or blender, process the mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, honey, salt, pepper, and basil leaves until smooth.
With the motor running, slowly stream in the oil through the feed tube until blended. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if you like.
2 Cook the shrimp: Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set it aside. You will use this to stop the shrimp from cooking.
In a wide saucepan set over medium heat, bring 4 cups of water to a simmer. Add the onion, bay leaves, salt, peppercorns, and parsley. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp to the pot, and stir.
Bring the water back to a simmer and remove the pan from the heat. Cover with a lid and leave for 3 minutes, or until the shrimp are opaque in the center.
With a slotted spoon, quickly scoop the shrimp into the bowl of ice water. Swish them around for one minute. Drain and pat dry. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours, or until ready to use.
3 Peel and devein the cooked shrimp: Starting underneath where the legs are attached, pull off the legs and shell. Leave the tail segment on (for appearance.)
Make a shallow slit down the middle of the back of the shrimp to reveal the black thread (intestine). Use the tip of a paring knife to lift out the black vein. Rinse the shrimp under cold running water.
4 Cook the bacon: In a skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp and golden. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
5 Assemble the salad: Serve on one large platter or on individual plates. Spread the lettuce on the bottom and top with separate mounds of shrimp, bacon, tomatoes, avocados, mangoes, cucumbers, and cheese. Serve with basil dressing.
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- 4 slices center-cut bacon
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ teaspoon ground paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
- 2 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon whole grain Dijon mustard
- 1 (10 ounce) package romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 ripe avocado, cut into wedges
- 1 cup shredded carrots
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and lay on paper towels cool for 5 minutes. Crumble bacon into bits.
Drain skillet of all but 1 tablespoon bacon drippings. Reheat skillet to medium-high heat. Season shrimp with paprika and black pepper. Saute shrimp until opaque, about 2 minutes each side. Season with 1/8 teaspoon salt.
Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Mix in romaine hearts.
Arrange 1 1/2 cups romaine lettuce on each serving plate. Top with equal amounts of bacon, shrimp, tomatoes, carrots, and avocado.
this was very tasty and different for a change of pace. added blue cheese and sunflower seeds. followed directions otherwise.
I still can't believe this is a "light" recipe! It is so delicious and has become a staple in our diet - especially in the summer time with fresh, ripe corn and avocado. My husband is not a shrimp fan, so I substitute the shrimp with chicken (cut into 1 inch cubes and grilled/sautéed). I was not crazy about the dressing, so I use Paul Newman's Lite Balsamic Vinaigrette instead. My husband just uses some olive oil.
I live in a desert and definitely don't trust fish that isn't fresh - which it never is, when you live in a desert. Plus its stupid expensive out here. But this recipe caught my attention because 1) I love ALL the ingredients, 2) it looked easy, and 3) it looked cool, refreshing and HEALTHY. This was a cinch to make. Easy is an understatement. And it was so good there were no leftovers. Even my teenage boys who have almost never had fish (the live-in-a-desert-where-there-is-no-fresh-fish-thing) chomped it all up. Older son didn't care for the corn with tomatoes. He said, "its weird that they're in a salad together." Pffft. This recipe will become a standard recipe in my home. OMGosh. Super.
This recipe has become one of our "go-to's". Great when you are looking for a lighter, easy meal. We've made it a couple times exactly as it is written, and now that we have done it a few times we find ourselves changing some things up. like subbing black beans for the corn, adding more mustard to the dressing, etc.. A very versatile and summery recipe.
Great weeknight dinner! Easy and healthy!
This is a great salad for a light dinner. Both my husband and Son (10yrs) really enjoyed it. We will make this again for sure.
We really love this salad! I made exactly as written, except I doubled the amount of dressing because it felt like we didn't have enough the first time I made it. I think it would be even better with grilled corn. I found the proportions to be just right. The tartness of the dressing was tempered by the salty bacon. I may or may not reduce the amount of lemon juice just a tad next time- I thought it was a little tart at the very end but my husband thought it was perfect.
This was amazing! I made half of the recipe tonight and plan on having the other half tomorrow. I used my cast iron grill to cook the bacon, then threw the shrimp on afterwords. I will definately be making this again!
I almost rated this as five stars, because I absolutely love this salad and have made it many many times, but then I remembered that I only made the shrimp the first time and I dind't care for them at all (and I LOVE shrimp, so that's pretty unusual). I have used other preparations of shrimp and also steak and the results were always amazing. Often, we will grill steaks with some corn on the cob one night and then the next day I will use the leftover steak and corn in this salad for my lunch. I personally love the tart dressing with the creamy avocado & starchy corn. Oh, and the bacon. well, bacon just makes everything better!
I can't believe I'm saying this, but there were too many vegetables in this salad to make it enjoyable. Contrary to many reviewers, DH and I enjoyed the shrimp and the dressing, but both were lost under the ton of other ingredients. Probably won't make again.
Love this combination of shrimp and fresh veg. I made this a few times last summer and changed it a little. Try blackening seasoning instead of paprika and double the dressing
- 4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon grated lime zest, plus 3 tablespoons juice
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup lightly packed chopped cilantro
- 1 bunch watercress, thick stems removed (3 cups)
- 2 hearts of romaine, thinly sliced (6 cups)
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and halved
- 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels. Remove all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet return to medium heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper cook in a single layer, flipping once, until opaque and firm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.
Whisk together zest and juice, oil, and cilantro season with salt and pepper. Toss greens with half of dressing transfer to a platter. Top with shrimp, tomatoes, eggs, avocado, and bacon. Season with salt and pepper serve, with remaining dressing.
This is delicious served this with creamy cilantro tomatillo dressing.
Because there is no cooking involved, this makes a perfect summer potluck dish and the presentation is beautiful. You can bring a trifle dish to a party and gives the host the dish as a gift! If you don’t have a trifle dish, you could always layer this in a large platter in neat rows.
As a main course salad this would be more than enough for 6 people, if you are bringing this to a party where it will be eaten as a side, this would serve 8 to 10.
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Shrimp Cobb Salad with Creamy Cucumber Yogurt Dressing
This hearty salad is healthy, delicious and satisfying. It is easy to put together and makes for a beautiful presentation. The creamy dressing is full of cucumber, fresh herbs and adds just the right amount of bright flavor to pull it all together. Starting out with great gulf shrimp is essential, and a quick sear and a sprinkling of Old Bay is all you need to make this a memorable and wholesome offering. I suggest you use Persian cucumbers for the dressing not only do they have great flavor, but they have less water than the normal cucumber which helps render a perfect consistency to your dressing.
- 1 1/2 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- flour for dusting shrimp
- 1 romaine heart, sliced
- 16 ounces mixed baby greens of choice
- 4 hard boiled eggs, quartered
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 5 radishes, thinly sliced
- 5 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and roughly chopped
- 2-3 avocados, diced
- 1 bunch chopped chives, for garnish
- 1/2 cup greek non-fat yogurt
- 2-3 tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 Persian cucumbers, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup mixed herbs of choice (parsley, dill, chives or basil)
- 2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
Directions: To make dressing, place cucumbers, garlic and herbs in food processor. Pulse to combine until fine. Add yogurt and buttermilk and continue to process adding vinegar and oil in a steady stream. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large, wide serving bowl, place greens to fill bowl. In rows, begin arranging the tomatoes, eggs, radishes, bacon and avocados on top, leaving a row in the center for shrimp. To prepare shrimp, heat a cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet with oil. Pat shrimp dry and season with Old Bay and dust lightly with a bit of flour to coat and absorb any excess moisture on the shrimp. This will insure a nice crispy exterior to your seafood. When oil is hot, sear shrimp for about 4 minutes per side (in stages if necessary to avoid over crowding your pan). Remove shrimp from pan and place atop salad. Drizzle half the dressing over salad, reserving remainder to serve on the side. Garnish with fresh chives and enjoy!
The ingredients used in this recipe
You'll only need a few ingredients to make this tasty dish (exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below):
Shrimp: It's best to use small shrimp since they are bite-size. Try to use sustainable shrimp if you can.
Mayonnaise: I prefer avocado oil mayonnaise. Sir Kensington's is a good brand.
Dijon mustard: Dijon is creamier and less vinegary than yellow mustard.
White wine vinegar: Or use fresh lemon juice if you prefer.
Kosher salt and black pepper: I use kosher salt in most of my recipes. If using fine salt, you might want to use less salt.
Vegetables and aromatics: Minced red onion, minced garlic, minced celery, and chopped cilantro.
Why serve a salad board?
Salad boards are casual and fun, with all ingredients on one big board. Sort of like a “build your own salad bar.”
You can prep the ingredients the day before, and assemble right before the guests come! Easy!
Also feel free to swap out the shrimp for diced chicken or ham, and trying crumbled feta instead of Roguefort cheese.
Shrimp Cobb Salad & Fresh Lemon-Chive Dressing
by Rachel Maser
Makes 4 servings
1.5 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp avocado oil
4 boiled eggs cooked and peeled
6 slices of cooked nitrate-free bacon, diced
1 cup of organic corn kernels, either fresh or frozen – thawed
1 large avocado, diced
1/2 cup crumbed cheese of choice, feta or blue cheese are both great on this
6 packed cups chopped romaine lettuce
Fresh Lemon-Chive Salad Dressing:
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 fresh lemon, juiced
1 fresh garlic clove
4 fresh chives
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a blender or food processor, pulse all Salad Dressing ingredients until creamy.
Taste, adjust seasonings to your liking. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over med-high heat Add in shrimp and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until pink and just cooked through.
Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper then set aside.
Arrange all salad ingredients on a platter or a large salad bowl nicely as shown, and when ready to serve, drizzle with dressing and gently toss to combine.
About the Recipe
The twist to this Cobb salad is the replacement of chicken with sweet and tender snow crab and bay shrimp. I prefer a larger bay shrimp and look for the biggest I can find, and as always, frozen shrimp thaws just right so frozen in the bag is an easy way to go. You’ll likely need just one 5-legged section of snow crab legs, and because they’re previously cooked, simply thaw or rinse the crab in cold water and then remove the meat from the shell. Or do like I did and buy the crab meat already shelled. You’ll pay more this way, but you only need 1/4 pound of crab (and also of shrimp) to make 2 servings as a main course salad.
In the recipe photos I’m sharing today I totally spaced adding a hard boiled egg. If you’re like me and sad that I didn’t include, add 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs roughly chopped as a layer to the salad. That should certainly do the job.
For years I’ve searched the internet for the recipe to Market Street’s vinaigrette dressing and finally, after a deep dive into Google, I found a version of the recipe on this recipe board. It’s not 100% the same to my buds of taste, but it is certainly delicious at the 99% mark. When making the dressing, be sure to use very lightly cracked black peppercorns rather than fine ground pepper. That in itself is a game changer.
And one more tip: If you’re like me and don’t love the lingering smell of a bacon-saturated home, try cooking your bacon in a cast iron skillet on the grill. It’s a super easy baconless-smelling-home solution.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.