On the Grill: Grilled Shrimp Salad

By PAUL SIDORIAK

I enjoy cooking because it is fun.  I find grilling fun as well.  Every once in a while, I get inspired to try something different or nontraditional on the grill.  It’s not like I go out of my to way to try grilling things that aren’t fond of the fire, it’s more of a why-not-throw-it-on-the-grill attitude that inspires me to try new things.

I had some really nice shrimp from Costco.  One of the things I like about Costco shrimp is that they do a pretty good job of splitting the back shell and removing the vein.  This drastically cuts down on my prep time and is often good motivation for me to buy them.  Lately, I have been conspiring over the theory that grilled food just tastes better when it’s cooked on a stick.  My research is a work in progress, so the plan was to skewer up some shrimp before cooking them on the grill.  I have found that the most versatile marinade and seasoning for grilling is Italian salad dressing.  After the shrimp were skewered, they got a healthy slather of Italian salad dressing while my grill heated up.

My attention shifted to preparing a salad to go with the shrimp.  I had a few heads of crisp romaine lettuce with thoughts of doing a nice, wedge-style salad. I cut the romaine in half and I removed the bitter and fairly inedible stem from the bottom before I gave the leaves a good wash.  Searching the fridge for other salad items, I noticed a few random acts of raw bacon hiding near the crisper and thought they would make a nice addition.

Finding a spot on the grill where the bacon could roast indirectly, I rendered it down on a cast iron skillet.  The bacon then went directly on the grilling grate to finish after it firmed up.  It roasted slowly.  If you have a second level on your grill for toasting buns, that would work well for this, but keep a careful eye on it because bacon has a tendency to go from zero to carbon very rapidly on a grill if left unattended.

With the bacon cooking away, it was time to grill off the shrimp.  I have found that skewered shrimp usually take about three minutes per side to cook but generally you can tell when they are done because of the deep pink color they develop along with a loss of translucency.  The smell of the shrimp that were bathed in the Italian elixir was sublime, evoking nostril nostalgia of summer street food and fun times.  The combination of the cooking shrimp and bacon made my mouth water and gave me an idea.  Why not grill the romaine lettuce the way I had the other ingredients, adding a new layer of color and flavor to the otherwise chilled salad?

The lettuce was slathered in Italian salad dressing and it grilled for about two minutes until it began smelling as sublime as the shrimp, taking on a darkened charred color in spots.

The grilled bacon was sprinkled on top of the wilted lettuce with some grape tomatoes cut in half and a few crumbles of Cabot cheddar cheese.  A wide variety of flavors, textures, and temperatures prevailed.  Tasting the grilled shrimp salad, I knew it was one I would make again – partially because it tasted good, but mostly because I had fun doing it.

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Getting ready for grilling
Getting ready for gr...
Romaine heads split in half
Romaine heads split ...
Bacon, cooking on the cast iron
Bacon, cooking on th...
Bacon finishing on the grill grate
Bacon finishing on t...
Grilling the shrimp on a stick
Grilling the shrimp ...
Grilled Romaine and Shrimp Salad
Grilled Romaine and ...

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Check out Paul’s other tasty grilling recipes for summer (or any season!) in his blog archive.

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Paul Sidoriak grills it up on the Big Green Egg.

Paul moved to Montana in 1996 with about a dozen friends from Lyndon State College in Vermont. He is still reluctantly paying his student loans and has carved out a career working as a supplier representative for various food and beverage products.

Paul enjoys grilling after a day on the water or an afternoon in the garden, where he has been known to grow heirloom tomatoes and peppers out of spite. Often cooking for extended family and friends, he takes a whimsical approach to cooking simple, seasonal dishes, while not taking it too seriously.

You can read more of Paul’s grilling recipes at his blog site, Grilling Montana.

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