simple summer salads

Grilled Pesto Garden Salad with Warm Balsamic Shrimp

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Here is another summer salad idea for ya! I created this salad recipe years ago (probably 5 years ago?) and it has been a consistent favorite for me and my fam ever since. I love this salad not only for its great flavor but also for its simplicity - just what I’m craving on busy weeknights or summer nights. And, I was just telling my husband that I love grilling out because it seems to make for minimal kitchen cleanup, which is a double bonus to me!

This salad is easy to prep with 3 pretty simple steps:

  1. Make the balsamic marinade and marinate the shrimp the morning of or a few hours before you plan to grill them (go ahead and skewer them before putting them in the marinade if you intend to cook them skewered on the grill).

  2. Chop up all your veggies and add to a bowl with the olive oil and salt.

  3. Make sure all other ingredients are on-hand (I used store-bought jarred pesto that I keep in our fridge, but you could prep that ahead too if you wanted to use homemade pesto).

I prepped our shrimp in the morning before church and then in the afternoon prepped the veggies and started to build the salads as items went and came off of the grill.

This is such a super fresh and delicious dinner option that I hope you try it and I hope it makes just as easy of a dinner for your busy family as it does for mine. Depending on how many you are serving, this salad can also make at least one more filling and energizing meal for lunch the next day. The pesto makes it a flavor-packed way to get your veggies and the shrimp bumps up the protein. We enjoyed ours with fresh bread from Central Market’s bakery. I’m LOVING the new Central Market on NW Highway. Sadly, they didn’t have my favorite bread, the chia & flaxseed bread, at this location. However, they did have a Seedsation bread that both my husband and I like and we made that the easy quality carbohydrate of our meal. I’m always a proponent of including some sort of quality carbohydrate with a meal and it’s really important for young athletes. Whether it’s before events to fuel their muscles, getting them ready for an hour or more of running, kicking, jumping, etc. or it’s after the game, restoring used energy pools in the muscle or being used as any energy source for the body so that protein can rebuild and repair, it’s important! I hope you, your family and your young athletes can enjoy this warm simple summer salad.

Happy Fueling!

Taylor


GRILLED PESTO GARDEN SALAD WITH WARM BALSAMIC SHRIMP

Makes about 2 to 3 salads

INGREDIENTS:

For Salad

  • 1 medium yellow summer squash, halved and sliced into about 1/4 inch thick slices

  • 1 bunch of asparagus (1 pound, give or take), chopped into about 2-inch long spears

  • 1 red bell peppers, cut into large pieces or squares (I like having the bigger grilled pieces to bite into)

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into large pieces or squares (like the red peppers)

  • 4 cups mixed greens (or more if you want bigger salads)

  • 2 tablespoons of pesto (plus more for serving, if desired)

  • About 1/2 pound of large shrimp, peeled and deveined (this may get you around 5 to 6 shrimp per person, depending on the shrimp. If you want more then, certainly use more. I bought a pound of shrimp and grilled so that I would have leftovers for a lunch or two during the week)

  • OPTIONAL - 1 loaf whole grain rustic bread (we love the Seedsation bread and Chia & Flaxseed bread fro Central Market)

For Vinaigrette for the Shrimp:

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons honey

  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

  • Pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. The morning of or a few hours before cooking, whisk together all of the Vinaigrette ingredients.

  2. Pour vinaigrette into a large ziplock bag along with the shrimp.

  3. Seal tightly and store in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

  4. When ready to cook, heat grill or grill pan to medium heat.

  5. Add your pesto to the bottom of a large mixing bowl (you will be adding the grilled veggies to this later and tossing together).

  6. Toss the chopped vegetables with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of pepper.

  7. Grill the vegetables on the grill until they start to soften and begin to get grill marks, about 10 to 20 minutes).

  8. Place the grilled veggies in the bowl with the pesto and gently toss together. Tent with foil or place in a warm oven to keep warm.

  9. Remove shrimp from the bowl or bag with marinade and grill about 2 minutes per side.

  10. Assemble salad by adding 1 cup of mixed greens to base of each plate.

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11. Top the spinach leaves with the warm pesto roasted vegetables.

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12. Sprinkle each salad with about 1 tablespoon of feta cheese.

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13. Top with your balsamic grilled shrimp

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14. Serve with warm crusty rustic bread, if desired, and enjoy!

Make It Again!

With the leftovers from this recipe, I like taking the pesto grilled veggies and the leftover balsamic shrimp and adding it to cooked quinoa and then adding a little feta sprinkled on top. You can give it a quick reheat in the microwave or enjoy it as a cold salad as is!