Caesar salad has a rich, if not confusing, history. Many people think the salad has something to do with Julius Caesar, but the salad was actually invented by an Italian man named Caesar Cardini, who immigrated to Mexico. His Caesar salad originated in Tijuana, Mexico—not in Europe, as many people believe.
Still, this Shrimp Caesar Salad shares more qualities with Mediterranean diet food than the typical Mexican dish. In this episode of To Eat With Love, our Mediterranean diet cooking show, nutritionist Fiorella DiCarlo, RD, CDN, shows how to make a Shrimp Caesar Salad that celebrates the healthy Mediterranean diet. Although a traditional Caesar salad recipe can be a heavy and not-so-nutritious salad in some American restaurants, this healthy version of the Shrimp Caesar Salad sticks to fresh, good-for-you ingredients.
No bottled dressing here! Instead, you’ll whisk together extra virgin olive oil, low-fat buttermilk, fat-free mayonnaise, dijon mustard, and minced garlic. (Use this trick to make mincing garlic easier.) Consider using yogurt instead of buttermilk for a healthier way to cut fat or vegan mayonnaise (such as Just Mayo or Earth Balance), which tastes the same with less fat and zero cholesterol.
Preparing a healthy version of crostini is also an important part of this recipe. (Crostini is just a classy Italian word for toast.) Although a baguette is typically used for crostini, choosing this whole grain bread will boost the fiber content of your meal, which will help you feel full longer and keep blood sugar levels in check.
To make the crostini even healthier, you’ll spread on a thin layer of pesto, which has bold, peppery flavor from its fresh basil and healthy fats from the extra virgin olive oil and pine nuts. You can make your own pesto, or you can buy it at the store. If you make pesto yourself, you can play around with the ingredients. Try supplementing the basil with arugula or mint, or swap the pine nuts for other heart-healthy (and cheaper) nuts, like walnuts or pistachio. (This pesto recipe uses kale and almonds!)
To assemble the Shrimp Caesar Salad, you’ll toss cooked, peeled shrimp and sliced red onion with the healthy Caesar salad dressing. Spoon this mixture on top of chopped romaine lettuce (or kale for a flavorful, antioxidant boost!). Sprinkle grated Parmesan Reggiano on top, if desired, and serve the pesto crostini on the side.