Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups are elegant and impressive. Serve as a tasty appetizer or side dish.
I know…another salad. But hear me out!
As pumped as I was to share my Steak Salad with Crispy Shallots, Dried Cherries, Candied Pecans and Goat Cheese (which is so ridiculous that I made it again for dinner last night!) I’m just as excited to share these Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups with you. Like, weirdly excited. Let me explain…
1.) Edible cups. There’s something about being able to eat your dinnerware that seriously thrills me.
2.) Elegant yet easy. Imagine how fancy you’ll feel serving this impressive yet doable side dish or appetizer to guests, or even better, your significant other on Valentine’s Day!
3.) Crispy cheese. ’Nuf said.
I came up with the idea for Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups while brainstorming what I’d make Ben and myself for Valentine’s Day dinner. I literally sat straight up on the couch when inspiration struck. Ben asked me what was up but then went back to playing pool on his iPhone before I could finish explaining. Ugh. That damn game. I suppose it’s better than Plants vs Aliens. I just…can’t.
Anyway, he’s got something up his sleeve for the main course, so knowing my guy loves Caesar Salad, and we both love shrimp (and parmesan cheese!) I thought these salad cups would be a stellar first course.
Sometimes Caesar Salad can be a bit boring (although I recently had a massaged Kale Caesar Salad at a local restaurant that was OMG-good,) but the dish is given a fun twist with the addition of brined then sauteed shrimp, juicy cherry tomatoes, and of course, homemade crispy parmesan cups. Ben went crazy for these things when I made them for the blog. They’re crunchy and salty – you WON’T miss the croutons!
Start by brining 1/4lb raw shrimp. Brining, in this case, is a fancy term for soaking shrimp in a combination of 1 Tablespoon each brown sugar and salt, and 2 cups cold water. Let the shrimp brine in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes and they’ll come out tasting extra good and saute up real snappy like. You don’t have to do this step but I highly recommend it!
By the way, I used frozen, deveined shrimp that I thawed in a bowl of cool water for 10 minutes, and then peeled. You can buy fresh, frozen, peeled, un-peeled, deveined or whole - whatevah.
While the shrimp are brining, grate 1 cup parmesan cheese which will be used to make the crispy parmesan cups. I hand grated my parmesan cheese on the small side of a box grater (couldn’t live without that thing,) but you could use pre-grated parm. I just wouldn’t use the powdered stuff.
Scoop 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan cheese onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper then spread the cheese into a thin, 5″ circle. If it’s too thick the cups will be greasy and chewy, too thin and the cups will be fragile. Just make sure you have a thin, even layer and you’ll be fine.
Pop the pan into a 375 degree oven for 4-5 minutes, or until the cheese is light golden brown and bubbly.
Let the cheese cool for about 15 seconds then use a thin spatula to scoop and place on an overturned prep cup. Gently press down to help mold the cheese. Note: I made a few on an overturned muffin tin, which also worked great. I’d recommend doing one first to practice!
While the crispy parmesan cups are cooling, chop 2 cups romaine lettuce. As I mentioned, Ben loves Caesar salads and he Loves (with a capital L!) freshly shredded romaine in ‘em. I just zipped through a small head then spun it through a salad spinner. Done!
Next, toss the lettuce in your favorite Caesar salad dressing. You could make your own but I’m partial to Brianna’s Asiago Caesar Dressing. It’s divine.
Finally, drain then pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel, season lightly with salt and pepper, and then saute in nonstick sprayed skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side until they’re pink and cooked through.
Mound a quarter of the dressed lettuce into each crispy parmesan cup then add the sauteed shrimp, and halved cherry tomatoes for color and a burst of freshness!
Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups
Serves 4 as an appetizer
1/4lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 12 large shrimp)
2 cups cold water
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
salt and pepper
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Caesar salad dressing
- Stir together water, salt, and brown sugar in a bowl then add shrimp and place in the refrigerator to brine for 20-30 minutes. Drain, pat dry, then season both sides lightly with salt and pepper, and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper then scoop 1/4 cup parmesan cheese into two mounds then spread with your fingers to make thin, 5″ circles. Bake for 4-5 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool for 15 seconds then use a very thin spatula to lift cheese crisps and drape over the bottom of prep cups or an overturned muffin tin. Repeat with remaining parmesan cheese. Let cups cool completely before removing.
- Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with nonstick spray then add shrimp. Saute until pink on one side, about 2 minutes, then flip and saute until cooked through, about 1 more minute.
- Toss lettuce with salad dressing then divide between cups. Top each cup with a quarter of the shrimp and halved cherry tomatoes. Serve immediately.
You’ll flip for these Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups! Fresh, crisp, salty, savory – YUM. Enjoy!