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Mardi Gras Shrimp Jambalaya Salad

Ragin' Cagin' Jambalaya Shrimp

Ragin’ Cagin’ Jambalaya Shrimp

Mardi Gras. What’s that? Fat Tuesday? Not around here.

In one of my first posts I shared my low-calorie shrimp jambalaya with egg noodles recipe with you all, but I thought I would push myself to make it EVEN healthier. And what can be healthier than salad? I assure you this salad is still full of zesty flavor, filling and super quick to prepare (I made this in less than 30 minutes). A triple threat. In fact, I nearly lifted my shirt it was so good, but then I decided to just keep it on. I have enough of those stinkin’ beads already (yes, that was a bad Mardi Gras joke).

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really measure ingredients, but rely on my good ol’ fashioned taste buds. I encourage you to do the same with this recipe as you really can’t mess it up. No, really, you can’t. 

This jambalaya requires four simple to prepare parts, made in the following order – homemade Cajun salad dressing (I’ll admit this is quite close to tasting like a Greek dressing, but it uses a basic Cajun seasoning mix – so, it’s Cajun!), seasoned croutons, jambalaya flavored shrimp and salad fixin’s. I added a few croutons on the salad because I had some day old bread to use up, but if you want to lighten this up even more than just omit these or substitute with some pepitas for some added crunch and nuttiness. In the future I might switch out the croutons for some quinoa for some added protein.

Yum. Yum. Now let’s get started.

Homemade Cajun Salad Dressing
Make the dressing first and set aside. If time allows, make a day ahead to let flavors meld together.

Red wine vinegar – start with a 1:2 ratio of vinegar to oil and add more to taste depending on how vinegar-y you like your dressing
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried onion powder
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix all ingredients in a shaker bottle or mason jar. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Set aside while you prep the rest of the salad ingredients. Keep leftovers in refrigerator.

Seasoned Croutons
Day old bread, cut into cubes – I used rosemary bread
Extra virgin olive oil
Dried onion powder
Salt

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line baking pan with foil. Place bread cubes in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add seasonings and toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer on foil lined pan and place in oven. Bake until golden brown with crunchy texture – approximately 5 minutes. Keep an eye on these babies so they don’t burn 🙂 Take out of oven and set aside to cool.

Jambalaya flavored shrimp

1 lb shrimp – deveined and shelled
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. cumin
Couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Cayenne Pepper (add more if you like it spicy!)
1 Tb. butter (or your favorite meltable fat)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1-2 Tb. finely diced celery
1/4 chopped tomatoes
1 jalapeño seeded and chopped
salt to taste

1. Place shrimp in a bowl and toss with dried herbs and a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce.
2. Heat up a skillet to medium heat and melt butter. Add in garlic, celery, tomatoes and jalapeño and cook for a few minutes until tomatoes start to get mushy.
3. Add shrimp into cooked vegetables, turn down heat and mix to coat. Add salt to taste. Cook shrimp JUST until they turn pink and then remove from heat. Do not overcook.

Salad Fixin’s
Feel free to use up whatever veggies you have in the fridge as that is exactly what I did 🙂

Chopped lettuce or salad greens
Thinly sliced red and orange bell pepper
Grape or cherry tomatoes
Sliced cucumber
Sliced avocado
Sliced red onion
Sliced green onion

After you have prepared the Cajun salad dressing, jambalaya flavored shrimp and the croutons (unless omitting). Put the salad fixings in the bowl and layer on the shrimp and croutons and drizzle with yummy Cajun dressing. Stand back and admire. Take a picture or two. Post to Instagram and taunt your friends with the delicious healthy meal you just made. Oh, and then eat the damn thing!

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Pineapple Basil Fish Cakes and Avocado Cilantro Lime Slaw (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

Yummy fish cakes. Cool tangy avocado cilantro lime slaw. Yay, no mayo!

As one who grew up not eating fish very often, I sure love it as an adult. Not only is it yummy and versatile, it also cooks in record speed and is one of the most healthful animal protein sources that I know of. I love playing with sweet fruit flavors in my recipes and complimenting them with fresh herbs and spices. My favorite herb has got to be basil. Lots and lots of fresh FRESH basil. If it isn’t large quantities of garlic and onions, I am probably using fresh basil more than any other ingredient. I just wish I could keep my plant alive so I didn’t have to keep buying it at the store. I know, I know…Woah is me.

Just as I was finishing up my last post (Low Calorie Shrimp Jambalaya with Egg Noodles), I was trying to think of what I wanted to make for dinner next. I was feeling void of inspiration for a short moment. A cloud of anxiousness covered me…. suddenly I feared that my blog would only EVER (E-V-E-R!!!) have four posts (at least it’s more than the first blog I started). Ok, ok I am slightly embellishing the feeling I had. One thing that I love about cooking and food is that I am pretty much ALWAYS thinking about it, so it doesn’t take me long to come up with my next recipe (thus why I keep a notepad on my phone to keep notes of dishes I want to make).  There is actually a running joke in my family that whenever we eat together, I have always said, “You know what we should have had?” It’s not that whatever we are ever eating isn’t worthy of praise and interest at that very moment, I am just always forward thinking and onto the next… meal.

And… back to the topic at hand. Fish.

Fish cakes are easy, yummy and a great way to mix up the normal fillet routine. You can use fresh or previously frozen fish in nearly any variety… salmon, cod, halibut, tilapia and lots more. Plus the ingredients you put into them can be changed up to suit your fancy, but you’ll definitely want to try my recipe to get you on your way to fish cake fanaticism. The slight sweetness of the pineapple coupled with the herby basil notes and then topped with the creamy lime cilantro dressing and crunch from the slaw make for a wonderful taste combination. The slaw also absolutely does not have mayo in it, because like you will soon come to know… I LOATHE MAYONNAISE! I find it vile and so gross, so I find ways around using it, or just don’t use it at all. You’re welcome, the calories weren’t welcome in this recipe anyways.

Oh, and did I mention this recipe is dairy free and gluten free! Yeah, well it is… so also healthier, so eat up!

If you buy fish when it is on sale or in the frozen fillets, you can save big money. We happen to buy almost all of our groceries at Grocery Outlet. Most people are amazed at that, because we certainly don’t survive off Ramen and Hamburger Helper in this house, that is for sure. We definitely are on a budget, and I am able to buy an assortment of fresh and frozen organic produce most of the time as well as wild caught fish for usually about half the price of normal grocery stores. I just love it there, and they have a fairly decent wine selection too.

Tools needed:

Food processor
Zester
Knife
Mandolin Slicer (optional – I don’t have one so I didn’t use it, but if you do it will make your life that much easier to thinly slice the cabbage into airy crisp goodness)

Servings: 4

Pineapple Basil Fish Cake

Ingredients:
8 oz. fresh or canned pineapple, drained as much as possible
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 bell pepper, cut up (any color will do)
FRESH basil – a large handful
pinch of red chili flakes
zest from 1 lime
1 lb. fish thawed, skin removed (salmon, cod, halibut, tilapia… your choice)
1 Tb. vegetable oil (I tried to use EVOO but found that it started smoking when cooking)

Avocado Cilantro Lime Slaw (NO MAYO! YAY!)

Ingredients:

1/4 – 1/2 cabbage, shredded airy thin (mandolin slicer can assist here, but I just used a sharp knife)
1 small ripe avocado
juice from 1 lime
large handful cilantro
1 clove garlic
pinch kosher salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Enough to thin out the dressing mixture

Steps

1. Start assembling the slaw first. Put the shredded cabbage in a medium bowl.

2. Plug in food processor. Scoop flesh of avocado into food processor, lime juice, cilantro, garlic and kosher salt and blend until smooth. Drizzle EVOO into processor until thinned enough that it can be mixed into slaw to dress cabbage. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

3. Scoop dressing out of processor and toss with shredded cabbage until covered. Place into fridge while assembling rest of meal.

4. Rinse out food processor to begin preparing fish cakes.

5. Put pineapple, garlic, kosher salt, bell pepper, basil, chili flake, lime zest in processor and blend until combined and finely pureed. Add fish and again pulse until incorporated with other ingredients.

6. Heat frying pan on medium high heat with 1 Tb. vegetable oil.

7. Scoop out 1/4 cup of fish mixture and place into heated frying pan. Press the fish mixture down to form a patty. Cook about 1 minute each side. Take out and place on a plate with paper towels to soak up excess oil.

8. Plate fish cakes and top with a heavy helping of slaw. Enjoy!

Note: We made mashed potatoes seasoned with my cajun spice mix as the other side for this. These weren’t GF/DF, so I omitted them from the post.

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