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Healthy & Delicious: Roasted Shrimp Kale Salad with Pesto

20140930_120841My brother-in-law, John has a mantra, “I’m starting fresh on Monday.” This is usually recited during a weekend of over-indulgence such as this past week! Coming up with ideas for starting fresh isn’t always easy when you’re cooking for a meat lover, but recently I had my sister, Shan and John over for dinner and served a salad I had come up with when I was on a health kick myself. The verdict? They both loved it.

The salad starts with a bed of kale with toasted almonds, golden raisins and Parmesan cheese tossed in roasted garlic dressing with lemony breadcrumbs. This is topped with an assortment of colorful ribboned vegetables that have marinated in a light vinaigrette and then roasted shrimp with kale pesto. The layers of textures and flavors make this a satisfying and delicious dinner, without the guilt.

Serves 6


Roasted Garlic Dressing:


1 – 2 heads of garlic roasted

1 lemon juiced and zested (set zest aside for later use)

½ cup extra virgin olive oil + extra for garlic (approximately 2X the amount of lemon juice)

1 anchovy or small pinch of anchovy paste (optional)

Ground pepper

Sea salt to taste

Tin foil


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°
  2. To roast the garlic remove loose paper from garlic (1 to 2 heads depending on preference), cut off top portion of the garlic so tops are exposed, sprinkle with sea salt, drizzle olive oil on the garlic, wrap in tin foil, and roast in middle rack of oven for 45 minutes or so, until cloves are soft.
  3. During the last 10 minutes pull back the foil so the garlic is exposed.
  4. Once garlic is roasted, squeeze bottom of cloves to release from paper and let cool.
  5. Process roasted garlic with lemon juice, anchovy and ground pepper until smooth, then stream in olive oil until emulsified. Add salt to taste.
  6. Store remaining dressing in refrigerator.

Roasted Shrimp:

I learned this method for cooking shrimp watching Ina Garten. I love the flavor and texture roasting gives the shrimp.


6 – 7 large shrimp per serving (10/15 count)

Kosher salt to taste

Ground pepper

Olive oil


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° (oven should still be preheated from roasted garlic)
  2. Rinse, peel and devein the shrimp, leaving tails on
  3. Dry shrimp well and place on baking pan
  4. Sprinkle with kosher or sea salt, ground pepper, and toss with olive oil
  5. Roast for 8-10 minutes or until done
  6. Remove from oven and set aside



Kale Pesto

I adapted this kale pesto by taking Emiril Lagasse’s basil pesto recipe and melding it with Andrew Weil’s (True Food Kitchen) technique for blanching kale for pesto.  To make Emiril’s basil pesto, replace the kale below with 3 cups of basil and omit steps 1 and 2. It’s a wonderful alternative to the kale pesto in this salad.


1 bunch of Jacinto kale, stems removed from the length of each leaf (about 4 cups of torn leaves)

½ cup toasted pine nuts (toast in dry skillet on medium low until fragrant and golden)

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (+ grate an extra ¼ cup for the kale salad)

3 – 4 cloves of smashed garlic

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp salt

Ground pepper

Whole nutmeg (optional)

Ice for ice bath


  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook stemmed and torn kale leaves for 3 minutes. While kale is cooking prepare an ice water bath to plunge kale in when done cooking. The ice water will help the kale retain its vibrant green color.
  2. Remove kale to ice water bath using a spider or tongs and let cool for several minutes. Strain the kale and squeeze excess liquid
  3. Place kale in a food processor and process for several seconds until chopped.
  4. Add toasted pine nuts, grated Parmesan, salt, several grinds of pepper, and a few grates of nutmeg and turn on processor. While processor is on stream in olive oil and process until relatively smooth and even.
  5. Pesto will keep in refrigerator for several days or can be frozen.



Ribboned Vegetables:


2 small peeled carrots or 1 large

1 zucchini

1 red pepper cut into thin matchstick sizes

A few dashes of champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)

Lemon zest

Sea salt


  1. Using a potato peeler, scrape long ribbons from the carrots and zucchini. This also works with cucumber, summer squash, fat asparagus, etc.
  2. Toss the vegetables with a couple of splashes of champagne vinegar, a few sprinkles of sea salt, and the zest of a lemon. Let marinate while you clean the kale for the salad.


Kale Salad


1 bunch of curly kale, cleaned and dried well with stems removed from the length of each leaf

½ cup toasted slivered almonds (toast in small dry skillet over medium low heat with a few sprinkles of salt)

½ cup golden raisins

Zest from 1 lemon

¾ cup of breadcrumbs

1TBSP olive oil

¼ cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup of medium coarsely grated Parmesan cheese (for texture)


  1. Stack and roll the kale and cut into long thin strips.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium in skillet and toss in breadcrumbs. Store bought are fine or make your own using crusty bread in a food processor. Remove to bowl when browned to cool and then toss in the lemon zest, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Set aside.
  3. Toss toasted almonds, golden raisins, and finely ground Parmesan, with the kale.
  4. Spoon in the dressing a couple of tablespoons at a time and toss until coated and then add in the coarsely grated Parmesan.



Place a couple of handfuls of the salad on each plate and top with breadcrumbs mixture.


Lace some of the vegetable ribbons onto the salad.


Arrange shrimp around salad. Spoon the kale pesto on to each shrimp and around plate.

Dana Wilde grew up playing “sous chef” for her father as he churned out one amazing meal after the next for family and friends. She inherited her father’s life long passion for cooking and has spent the past two decades studying, reading, practicing, experimenting, and creating in the kitchen.
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  1. This looks so delish, plus I love shrimp, I love making new things and my husband would love to try this. Thanks for the share and I will be sure to pin:) Merry Christmas:)

    • So glad you are giving this a try Trina! Let us know how you and your husband like it. Happy New Year!!

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