This Shrimp Caesar Salad Is Actually Super Healthy

A Mediterranean version of the recipe lightens things up.

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.

Difficulty: Easy


  • 2 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (or 1/2 tablespoon fat-free honey mustard)
  • 8 (1/2-inch thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette
  • 4 teaspoons basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk (1%)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 cups mixed greens such as Italian blend or 1 (10-ounce) bag
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, cooked and peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350°. 2. Combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, olive oil, Dijon mustard and minced garlic in a bowl; cover buttermilk mixture, and chill. 3. Coat both sides of bread with cooking spray. Place on a baking sheet, and bake at 350° for 5 minutes on each side. Spread 1/2 teaspoon pesto on one side of each slice of bread. 4. Combine greens and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Add buttermilk dressing; toss well to coat. Serve with crostini.
Fiorella DiCarlo, RD

This video features Fiorella DiCarlo, RD. Fiorella DiCarlo is a registered dietitian in New York City.

Duration: 5:25. Last Updated On: Nov. 16, 2017, 6:36 p.m.
Reviewed by: Preeti Parikh, MD . Review date: March 28, 2017

Nutrition Information

Recipe Serves 8
Nutrition Information Based on a Single Serving
Amount Per Serving% Daily Value*
7% Complete
7% Complete
24% Complete
22% Complete
14% Complete
8% Complete
6% Complete
25% Complete
*Percent Daily Value are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Dietary Needs

Lower Sugar
Lower Sugar
Lower Carbohydrate
Lower Carbohydrate
being a healthier you.
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