It was really warm out one summer night, and I was craving a fresh and healthy Mexican-inspired dinner. And so these cilantro chimichurri shrimp salad bowls were born! Kind of like Chipotle with a twist.
This shrimp salad is easy to make and packed with delicious, refreshing flavor. It’s especially perfect for summer, but can be enjoyed any time of year!
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Thanks to McCormick for sponsoring this post, originally published in 2014!
Mexican Shrimp Salad Bowls
The highlight of this recipe is the sauce. I made a variation of Chimichurri sauce to cook the shrimp, using cilantro instead of parsley and adding some fun McCormick seasonings to amp up the flavor.
I decided to use a mix of my old favorite cumin, plus ground cayenne red pepper and smoked paprika. Have you tried smoked paprika before? It’s amazing – we’ve been tossing it into everything!
This cilantro chimichurri would go really well with chicken or beef instead of shrimp, too, or even black beans!
Aside from the yummy sauce, we’ve got plump shrimp, crunchy veggies, and brown rice over a bed of greens. It’s super nutritious but also tastes amazing – a perfect combo in my book!
Here’s what you’ll need to make this healthy shrimp salad:
For the cilantro chimichurri sauce:
- lemon juice
- olive oil
- fresh cilantro
- spices: ground cumin, ground red pepper, and smoked paprika
For the shrimp salad bowls:
- shrimp (Fresh or frozen. You can also swap this out for a different protein or beans instead.)
- baby kale (Get creative here and feel free to mix it up. If you don’t have baby kale, try baby spinach, or arugula, or mixed greens! I love starting dishes like this with greens.)
- veggies (I used bell pepper and tomatoes, but feel free to use any veggies you have on hand. Diced avocado is a great topper, too.)
- brown rice (Quinoa would also work well here, as would barley.)
How to Make Shrimp Salad with Cilantro Chimichurri
Start by mixing all the chimichurri sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Then, cook your shrimp (or other protein) in the sauce over medium high heat, until fully cooked. (I used frozen shrimp – enough for two servings.)
Once the shrimp/meat is cooked (if using beans, just sauté it lightly or use the sauce as a salad dressing instead), you can assemble your bowls!
To add some volume and nutrients to the mix, start the bowls with a bed of baby kale or other greens. (Did you know kale is packed with vitamins A, C, and K?)
Next up in the bowl: some simple brown rice (or other grain).
If you want, you could throw the rice into the pan with the shrimp and sauce to add extra flavor, or you can add it on plain. You can also leave out the grain and have some chips on the side instead!
Top off your bowls with some extra veggie power! I love chopped green pepper and a really ripe tomato.
Then, toss in the shrimp. Be sure to add both the shrimp AND the leftover sauce in the pan. It will do double duty as your “dressing.”
Lastly, add toppings!
The final step is some extra fresh cilantro and a little cracked pepper. Shredded or crumbled cheese is also tasty here.
After I took these photos, Matt and I realized that we had forgotten an integral part of Mexican meals (as far as we’re concerned): avocado! A little diced avocado really rounds things out.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner idea, give this a shot! Matt is normally not a huge shrimp person and even he loved it. The sauce is so flavorful that the shrimp wasn’t fishy tasting at all.
You’ll find the full cilantro chimichurri shrimp salad recipe at the end of this post. Enjoy!
If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it! What are your favorite healthy Mexican-inspired recipes? Here are a couple more of mine:
- Mexican Lasagna <— one of my favorite recipes ever
- Quinoa Taco Salad (vegan & super easy)
- Crockpot Mexican Chicken
- Mexican-style Sweet Potato Fries
- Mexican Black Bean Burgers (vegan)
- Vegetarian Mexican Stuffed Peppers
Chimichurri Sauce (makes ~2 servings)
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. (packed) fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp. each of: ground cumin, ground red pepper, and smoked paprika
- salad fixings: shrimp, veggies, beans, baby kale/greens, etc.
- Just mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl, then cook your shrimp (or other protein) in it over medium high heat until fully cooked. I used frozen shrimp – enough for two servings.
- Once the shrimp/meat is cooked (if using beans, just sauté it lightly or use the sauce as a salad dressing instead), you can assemble your bowls! Get creative here and feel free to mix it up. To add some volume and nutrients to the mix, I started the bowls with some baby kale. If you don’t have baby kale, try baby spinach, or arugula, or mixed greens! I love starting dishes like this with greens.
Thank you to McCormick for sponsoring this post (and for sending me some of their awesome spices to experiment with in the kitchen)! If you missed my previous McCormick posts, check those out, too: How to Add Flavor to Meals Without Salt or Sugar and Lemon & Herb Fish Recipe.
Here are some tips from McCormick to mix up your Mexican-inspired dishes this summer:
- Fuse Mexican dishes with flavors from other parts of the world. For example, bring a touch of Spain to your tacos by using Smoked Paprika.
- Add Mexican flair to non-traditional Mexican cuisine – like a Mexican Bloody Mary featuring tomatillos, cucumbers and cilantro. (Their Tomatilla Maria recipe sounds awesome!)
- Consider regional Mexican cuisines like Adobo Chicken Quesadillas in a tangy citrus and tomato sauce. Some other recipes of theirs that caught my eye: Shrimp and Queso Fresco Empanadas with Charred Tomatillo Sauce, Salmon Tostada with Chamoy and Charred Corn Relish, and Mexican Slow-Roasted Pork (Cochinita Pibil)