This fresh and crunchy Shrimp Taco Salad is loaded with black beans, bell peppers, and a creamy avocado dressing. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to eat crispy fried tortilla strips.
Sometimes I need an excuse to eat freshly fried tortilla strips. Tell me I’m not the only one. It seems mildly inappropriate to fry up tortilla strips on a random Thursday and spend the entire afternoon sneaking them into my face. Buuut, if I have big plans to put them on top of a giant salad for dinner, it’s totally legitimate, right?
Here’s the thing about fresh fried corn tortillas. They’re amazing. Magical, even. Crispy, golden, with just the right amount of salt, I’m always shocked that something so simple can be so irresistible. Fried tortillas are that bit of awesome that takes a boring old weeknight salad and turns it into the most anticipated meal of the week.
So let’s talk about this Shrimp Taco Salad. It’s partly an excuse to eat crispy tortilla strips, yes, but it’s also pretty fantastic in its own right. No wimpy salads in this household. This one is loaded with black beans, bell peppers, red onion, spicy shrimp, and a creamy avocado dressing. Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list. I promise things come together quickly.
I like to fry the tortilla strips, chop the veggies, and make the dressing early in the day while the baby is napping. The dinner hour tends to be a little hectic around these parts, and by 5 PM my energy is waning. Luckily, all that’s needed is a five minute saute for the shrimp and beans and everything is ready to go.
We’ve had this for dinner a couple of nights now, and the Mr. always comments about how much he likes it. The dressing especially, which packs just the right amount of tang and freshness from lime juice and cilantro, is a standout. You’ll have to use all the willpower you have to keep from eating all the tortilla strips before dinner time, but if you can hold out you’ll be rewarded with one heck of a crispy, crunchy, spicy, fresh Shrimp Taco Salad.
For the tortilla strips:
- 6 corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup canola oil
For the shrimp:
- 1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 scant teaspoon cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
For the salad:
- 6 cups finely chopped romaine lettuce
- 1/2 cup black beans
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
For the dressing:
- 1/2 ripe avocado
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 3 Tablespoon mayo
- 2-3 Tablespoons water
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
- Large handful (about 1 cup loosely packed) freshed cilantro leaves and stems
- Squeeze of lime
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the tortilla strips:
- To make the tortilla strips, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. To see if it's hot enough, put a few water droplets in the oil. If they sizzle, it's ready. Stack the tortillas on top of each other and cut into strips with scissors. Drop the strips in the hot oil and fry until golden on both sides, stirring often. Remove to a paper towel lined tray. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to do this in several batches.
For the rest of the salad:
- In a small bowl, whisk together the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Sprinkle the shrimp with all but 1 teaspoon of the spice mixture. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes or until pink. Flip and then cook an additional 1-2 minutes until both sides are pink and opaque. Remove the shrimp to a plate.
- Toss the black beans with the remaining spice mix. Add it to the skillet and saute for a few minutes until heated through. Remove to the same plate.
- To make the dressing, place the avocado, sour cream, mayo, jalapeno, and cilantro in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add the lime juice and the water, a Tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To assemble, toss the greens, bell pepper, onion, and black beans with the dressing. Top with the shrimp and fried tortilla strips.