Weeknight Shorts: Cajun Shrimp Salad

When mid-October rolls around, I start contemplating how to feed my family on Halloween. Whether we're all dressing up to go wandering the neighborhood in search of treats or dressing up to hand out said treats to those coming to our door or both, I like to make sure everyone gets something like a healthy meal before the bartering and begging about candy begins in earnest later in the night. (For the record, this mom gets at least some offerings of peanut butter cups and taffy every time, so I'm a happy camper.)

For me, tossing together a fairly light, super flavorful main dish salad is where it's at. We're likely to have a busy night, so something quick is important and heavy food just doesn't mix with the trek around the area or with the desire to leave at least some room for goodies. So a fantastically seasoned shrimp salad is where I aim. If your brood doesn't like shrimp, chicken works equally as well and only takes a few minutes longer to make. Grab the veggies you have on hand to round things out and call it a meal. Some nights call for inspired cuisine with fancy presentation. Halloween begs you to feed 'em and get going!

What to have with this salad? Nothing. Save some room for Tootsie Rolls, Gobstoppers, Snickers bars, and more. Halloween happens but once a year and you can smile knowing you've gotten some protein and veggies into your family before the festivities began. Good job!

Cajun Shrimp Salad

  • 10 oz. large shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 T. cooking fat of your choice - I used bacon fat
  • 2 tsp. cajun seasoning - I used Penzeys
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. smoked paprika
  • 12 oz. torn Boston lettuce
  • 1 red bell pepper - seeded and chopped
  • 1 large, ripe tomato - chopped
  • 1 small cucumber - halved lengthwise and sliced into small pieces

While you are peeling and deveining the shrimp, heat the cooking fat of your choice over medium heat in a large, nonstick skillet. When the skillet is hot, add the shrimp and sprinkle about half of the seasonings (cajun seasoning through smoked paprika) evenly over the shrimp in the pan. After about 2 minutes of cooking, turn all of the shrimp and sprinkle the remaining seasoning over the other side of the shrimp. After the shrimp have cooked for another 2 minutes, stir the shrimp briefly in the pan to make sure it's all evenly coated and cooked through. Remove the skillet from the heat source and allow the shrimp to rest in the pan while you prepare the rest of the salad.

To assemble the rest of the salad, combine the lettuce, bell pepper, tomato, and cucumber in a large serving bowl; toss well to combine.

Just prior to serving, arrange the shrimp over the prepared salad, drizzling the pan juices over the top; serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes