This shrimp salad is full of flavours and vibrant in colours making it a fiesta to eat. During weekdays we try to eat fewer carbs to balance out our weekend feasts. This Mexican shrimp salad is made with fresh nutritious ingredients and can be thrown together in under 30 minutes, making it a perfect midweek meal.
During the spring and summer months salads are popular light meals. Try this salad if you are looking for a healthy and nutritious but above all flavourful meal. I promise you this salad is anything but boring.
When you think of Mexican food you probably think of the standard burritos, nachos and quesadillas. While those dishes are definitely tasty they can also be a bit heavy, full of cheese and loaded with carbs. This salad will give you all the flavours you are craving but will nourish your body with loads of healthy vegetables and lean protein.
This salad came to be when I was craving some Mexican food but didn’t want to spend a lot of time cooking. All ingredients were lying around my kitchen and I decided that shrimps would be the perfect protein source for this summery salad.
The marinated shrimps are the absolute star of this dish. They are packed with flavour and will elevate the entire salad to a whole new level. Don’t be afraid of the long list of ingredients for the marinade. They are mostly spices you probably already have in your pantry. Together they create this typical Mexican flavour. Try it once and you will never buy ready-to-use spice mixes again. You can use the same concoction to marinate other types of protein as well.
The only ready-made ingredient I used was the ‘diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce’. They provide a spicy, sweet and smoky flavour to the dish. Try to find a brand that is clean and free of additives. It’s a great ingredient to have in your pantry to give a quick Mexican flavour to any meal.
I used frozen shrimps that I thawed before using. A quick tip: If you want to defrost shrimps quickly put them in a ziplock bag and submerge the bag in room temperature water. The shrimps should be thawed after about 10 minutes. Do not use hot water as this can already start the cooking process and will also increase the risk of bacterial growth.
The lime juice in the dressing will already start to ‘cook’ the shrimps, just like a ceviche. Make sure to marinate the shrimps right before you plan on cooking them to prevent the shrimps from becoming overcooked and gummy.
Roasted black beans
These roasted black beans make a great addition to any Mexican themed dinner. They are flavourful and are super easy to make. You can use regular tinned beans, just make sure to rinse them in a sieve beforehand to remove all the slimy water. This also cuts down on the salt that is usually added to tinned beans.
It is important to choose a big enough skillet so all the beans can be spread out in one even layer. The cumin seeds, salt and black pepper will give a pop of flavour, making this a perfect side dish for many meals. In your salad, they provide an interesting extra depth of flavour. If you find roasting the beans too much hassle then by all means just add them as is. This way they will still add loads of extra nutrients. Black beans are high in fibre and protein, they also contain a lot of antioxidants, making them an excellent addition to this salad.
A quick trick to make salads way more nutritious is by swapping regular lettuce for spinach. Spinach contains boatloads of fibre, vitamins and minerals, making it an absolute health bomb. Lettuce also contains these but in much lower amounts. Especially iceberg lettuce, which is 96% water. Depending on the salad I will switch out all lettuce for spinach or half of it to keep some lettuce for its flavour or crisp bite. I also often use spinach instead of lettuce in hamburger buns and wraps as a quick fix to add some extra greens.
Baby spinach has a milder flavour than its mature counterpart. I like to eat baby spinach raw in salads and use regular spinach for all cooked dishes.
Lime salt and lemon vinegar
Citrus flavours pair incredibly well with seafood. The zest and juice of citrus fruits are commonly used in many dishes. In this dish, I swapped them for gourmet salt flakes and fruity vinegar.
Flavoured salts are a great way to add some extra flavour to your dish. I love using salt flakes as they not only add flavour but also a crunch. Make sure you add flaked salt only as a finishing touch to your dish. The flavoured salt flakes I use are 100% natural, they are combined with dried herbs and spices to give an extra depth of flavour to your meal. I guess you can say I’m a big fan of salt, right now there are nine types of salt waiting in my kitchen cabinet to be used. I can assure you, I use all of them regularly and still have a couple more types on my wish list.
Lemon vinegar is one of my go-to kinds of vinegar for salads. I am lucky to have a small delicacy shop nearby where I can shop for all my oils, salts and vinegars. The lemon vinegar I use is 100% natural and strangely enough, tastes sweet without any added sugar! If you can’t find anything similar I suggest adding a squeeze of fresh lime juice. This will still taste amazing and it’s my go-to second choice if I haven’t got any lemon vinegar at home.
Tips & Alternatives
- If you can’t find any lemon vinegar use a squeeze of lime juice instead. I find that lime works really well in Mexican style dishes as it compliments the other flavours perfectly. If you can’t find any limes then lemons are the next best thing.
- Flavoured salt flakes create an amazing finishing touch. Regular salt flakes are the only other option in my opinion. They are a bit more expensive than regular table salt, but they not only add flavour but also texture to your dish. A little goes a long way so one container will last you years. Also, since it’s salt you don’t have to worry about any expiration dates.
- Shrimps are a great source of protein for this dish that require very little time in preparing. An alternative could be chicken or even thin beef strips. You can use either chicken breast or thigh and prepare them in the same way you would prepare the shrimps. Just remember that chicken needs to be cooked for a longer period of time. If you go for beef strips then quickly sear them in a piping hot skillet.
- I like to prepare the red onions in two ways for this salad. Half of it raw and crispy and the other half baked until translucent and sweet. The two different preparations give you extra flavour and texture, but you can definitely also use all of the onions either raw or baked if you want to skip one of the steps.
- Depending on how spicy you like your shrimps you can omit the chili flakes. These are just in the recipe to add extra heat. Remember, the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce also add some heat.
- I prefer to use raw shrimp for this dish, so I'm in full control of the cooking process. If I can't find them I'll use precooked shrimp and that also works great. Just keep in mind these need an even shorter cooking time.
More Salad Inspiration
If you liked this Mexican Shrimp Salad I'm sure you'll love my summery Caprese Salad as well! Full of flavours and vibrant colours this quick and easy salad is a summer favourite!
If you're looking for more delicious shrimp recipes then give these Gambas Pil Pil a try! These fragrant prawns are cooked in garlic and chili oil and are served sizzling hot!
More Mexican Recipes
This fresh and creamy guacamole is the perfect dip for a salty tortilla chip or an easy side dish to a Mexican feast. Give this guac a try and you’ll be making it on repeat.