Blackened Shrimp and Halloumi Salad – have you seen a prettier combination? We take take peppery arugula leaves and toss them in a simple vinaigrette and then layer them with sweet watermelon, salty halloumi cheese, toasted pita croutons, and spicy blackened shrimp. It’s hearty, healthy, and SO delicious.
Blackened Shrimp and Halloumi Salad
If you’ve been around here a while, then you know I LOVE a salad. However, I only love a salad with a bunch of “stuff.” Evidenced in this Thai Peanut Chicken Salad and Chopped Chickpea and Tahini Salad.
This Blackened Shrimp and Halloumi Salad is no exception! Let’s discuss:
- Peppery arugula dressed with a delicate lemon-based vinaigrette.
- Pita chip croutons dusted with spices and baked until irresistibly crispy.
- Sweet, juicy watermelon
- Ever-so-slightly spicy shrimp blackened until plump and sweet.
- And the pièce de résistance – salty halloumi cheese.
This salad is the perfect combination of sweet, salty, spicy, and hearty, and honestly, I can’t get enough of it!
Ingredients in our Halloumi Salad
Arugula. If you’ve never had arugula before, I’d describe it as sort of peppery, but still very delicate and light. If you’re not a fan of arugula, you can also use spinach or any variety of leafy greens.
Vinaigrette. This vinaigrette for our halloumi salad is super simple – lemon juice, dijon, a little bit of honey, and olive oil That’s it!
Pita + spices. In sticking with the Mediterranean theme of our halloumi salad, I thought it would be fun to swap out regular croutons for pita croutons. You could season them simply with just salt and pepper, but also also added a little bit of garlic powder and cumin for extra flavor.
Blackening seasoning. Blackening seasoning is one of my favorite all-purpose seasonings to add flavor to shrimp, chicken, and other seafood. It’s a combination of paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano, and adds the perfect hint of spice to seared shrimp.
Shrimp. You can use your favorite shrimp for this recipe – although I’m partial to an Argentinean shrimp which is super sweet and lobster-like in texture.
Halloumi cheese. Ahhh halloumi cheese. This is the slightly chewier, less crumbly version of feta cheese. It’s not nearly as popular as its cousin, but it should be. It has that same salty bite as feta, but it’s a little bit more similar to a mozzarella texture – or even cheese curds.
Let’s make halloumi salad!
Make the croutons. You’ll want to do this first, so they have time to cool. Just toss the cut pita with olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and paprika. Spread on a baking sheet and bake until crispy and brown, about 10-15 minutes. Cool.
Make the vinaigrette. Add lemon juice, honey, dijon, garlic, and salt together in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook the shrimp. Toss shrimp with salt and blackening seasoning. Heat a large skillet to a medium-high heat. Add a little bit of olive oil and the shrimp. Cook until pink and curled, about 2-3 minutes.
Toss everything together. I like to pour the salad dressing in the bottom of a big bowl and then put everything on top. (Leave out a few shrimp, some croutons, cheese, and watermelon to sprinkle on top.) Toss everything together. Season with salt and pepper. Top with remaining ingredients.
Can I make Halloumi Salad in advance?
Yes! Sort of. Here’s what I would do. Prep everything except for the shrimp in advance. You can put the salad dressing in the bottom of your serving bowl and then top with arugula, cheese, and watermelon. Store croutons in an airtight container.
Just before serving, cook the shrimp and then toss everything together.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Arugula tends to wilt pretty easily, so don’t overdress it. Use a little bit of the vinaigrette and then add more as needed.
- This halloumi salad cannot be tossed in advance, as it will become soggy. (See notes for prepping ahead of time.)
- Swap out shrimp for chicken or salmon.
- Strawberries or blueberries would also be great if watermelon isn’t in season.
- Halloumi cheese can be quite expensive (although I know Trader Joe’s has it right now very reasonably priced) so if you want to swap it our with feta or even cheese curbs, that would work great.
- 1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
- 1 tbsp blackening seasoning
- 2 tbsp butter
- 5 oz baby arugula
- 2 cups cubed watermelon
- 5 oz halloumi cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 pita, cut into 1-inch slices
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Non-stick skillet
- Make the pita croutons. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add pita to a small sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Toss until all the pita pieces are coated. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, and paprika. Toss again. Spread on the baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 12-15 minutes.
- While the pita cooks. Season shrimp with salt. Sprinkle with blackening seasoning. Heat a a non-stick skillet to a medium heat. Add butter. Once the butter is melted and hot, add the shrimp. Cook 1-2 minutes and then flip and cook another 30 seconds to a minute on the other side until the shrimp are cooked through. Remove shrimp from the skillet and set aside.
- Add the halloumi to the hot pan with butter. Sear halloumi until brown , about 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook another 30 seconds to a minute. Remove from the pan and transfer to the same plate as the shrimp.
- For the vinaigrette: Whisk lime juice, dijon, honey, and garlic together. Whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- To assemble. Add arugula to a big salad serving bowl. Add a little bit of the vinaigrette to the leaves. Toss to coat. You don't want to overdress! Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve a few croutons, shrimp, watermelon and halloumi to nestle on top. Add the remaining ingredients to the arugula. Gently toss. Nestle the reserved croutons, shrimp, watermelon, and halloumi to the top.