This grilled Caesar salad with chimichurri shrimp will be your new favorite party platter

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen
Grilled Caesar salad with chimichurri shrimp

This recipe began like many other very good dishes: by accident. 

We were filming two separate food videos for Southern Kitchen's social sites. (Did you know you can follow us on TikTok?) During filming, I realized that the two recipes I was making — grilled Caesar salad and chimichurri shrimp skewers — would be a match made in heaven if plated together. Even better, you can make it almost entirely on your grill.

This process may seem complicated, but if you're organized and have a place to plate your food near the grill, you'll end up with a gorgeous centerpiece for any dinner table. Make sure to find a big platter for serving.

But first: grilled salad? Yes, it's absolutely a thing. You'll want to use fresh, crisp romaine hearts, which stand up well to high heat.

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Another note: This is a flexible recipe. You can use any size shrimp or tweak the amount of dressing. You can also use more lettuce and less protein or vice versa. It's up to you. But the components — grilled bread, shrimp, romaine, Caesar dressing and chimichurri — are a thing of beauty when served together.

Ingredients

Chimichurri (recipe follows)

2 pounds of jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 slices of sourdough, sliced again in thirds. You may also use a dozen thin slices of a baguette

One garlic clove, halved

3-4 whole large romaine hearts, or approximately 1.5 pounds

About 3/4 of a cup of your favorite store-bought Caesar dressing

Olive oil for drizzling

Salt and pepper to taste

For the chimichurri:

1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley leaves (about a cup, packed)

3-4 garlic cloves

Generous pinch of red pepper flakes

About a 1/4 cup of fresh oregano leaves, loosely packed

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Juice of half a lemon; slice the other half into wedges.

3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

For the chimichurri: Pulse all ingredients except the oil in a food processor until chopped finely, but not pureed.

Drizzle in the olive oil and pulse a few more times until you have something like a chunky vinaigrette. You may add more oil to "loosen" it if you would like. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for at least an hour or up to two days in the refrigerator. 

Preheat the grill to high heat. 

To prepare the salad components:

Toss the raw shrimp with salt and pepper and just enough olive oil to lightly coat the surface. Thread the shrimp on skewers, about 6 shrimp per skewer. I like metal skewers, which don't require soaking and keep whatever you're skewering steady. 

Cut the romaine hearts, stem to tip, into quarters. Place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add a little salt and pepper to the lettuce just before grilling. 

Rub the bread with the garlic. Drizzle the bread with a little bit of olive oil.

To get grilling:

Stage your grill area with tongs, the skewered shrimp, the bread, the lettuce and your Caesar dressing and chimichurri. Make sure you have your serving platter and a couple of spoons to apply the dressings. You may also pour the Caesar directly from the bottle if you're careful not to dump it out too fast.

First, grill your skewered shrimp over high heat until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side, or until they turn pink. Pull the skewered shrimp off the heat and set aside. Do not turn the grill down. 

Working quickly, place your romaine and bread slices on the grill, turning frequently until both the romaine and the bread are lightly charred. You don't want to burn your bread and romaine, but you want plenty of good grill flavor. 

Assemble your salad:

First, arrange your grilled romaine hearts on the platter. Drizzle with some of the Caesar dressing, reserving some. Arrange the grilled bread around and on top of the romaine, and then remove the shrimp from the skewers and arrange it on top of the salad and bread. Spoon the chimichurri liberally over the shrimp. You will have some left over to serve on the side for people to add as they'd like.

Finish the salad with more drizzled Caesar dressing (or you could leave more on the side for your guests to apply as they'd like), and add the lemon wedges on the side. Garnish with fresh cracked pepper. 

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.

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Reach me: mlunsford@southernkitchen.com