Bloody Mary Tomato Salad with Pickled Shrimp



The heirloom tomatoes are coming in at Pepper Place and I’m a huge fan. We buy them every chance we can get. Personally, I can eat them like an apple, but this recipe is the perfect marriage of those tomatoes with some fresh Gulf shrimp!

  • 3# assorted tomatoes, sliced (heirlooms are best, such as Cherokee Purple, Beefsteak, Brandywine, etc but any good southern ripe tomato will do)
  • 1/3 cup celery sliced thin on the bias (diagonal)
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed celery leaves (celery leaves are great for seasoning dishes and for garnishes, so don’t automatically toss them like many people do

Using a chilled serving platter, arrange the sliced tomatoes and celery. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste. Drizzle with the Bloody Mary Vinaigrette (recipe below) and spoon the pickled shrimp over the top (also below). Top with the celery leaves and garnish with pickled okra or pickled green beans. You can even add some crumbled Feta if you’d like!

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup spicy Bloody Mary mix (like Zing Zang)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 tsp finely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 3/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine ingredients in a bottle with a lid, shake and chill.

To make pickled shrimp:

In a zip top freezer bag (gallon size), add 1 pound of medium-sized peeled fresh shrimp. To the bag, add the following ingredients, then place the bag in your refrigerator for at least 2 hours but the longer you leave it in, the better. After 6 hours the shrimp will get rubbery, so 2-6 hours is the processing time.

  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp each chopped fresh dill and flat leaf parsley
  • 1 1/4 tsp Creole seasoning (I use Old Bay)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

Seafood Lasagna


I made this a few weeks ago for lunch and had rave reviews. Many of you emailed wanting the recipe. I’m sorry it took me this long to sit down and type it up, but a lot of my recipes are in my head and I have to sit down and put them to paper before I can share them. Once you make this recipe one time, you’ll see how easy it actually is and it can be whipped up on the fly in the future. It’s an excellent dish to impress friends at a dinner party and it reheats well so take the leftovers to work and make everyone jealous.

  •  1 box lasagna noodles
  • 1 package of pre-cooked, peeled shrimp, thawed, tails removed
  • 1 package or can of lump or claw crab meat, picked for shells *see my trick below*
  • 1 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or any larger piece bread crumbs (not bread crumb dust)
  • 1 tbsp Old Bay seafood seasoning
  • 1 cup button or baby bell mushrooms, sliced & sauteed in a little butter or olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 package Italian shredded cheese blend (parmesan, mozzarella, asiago, etc)


  • 5 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 4 cups milk (or use half & half for richer sauce)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

First make the sauce as follows:

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook, stirring often, until roux turns sandy brown, 4-5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk/cream and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens (consistency of biscuit gravy). Remove from heat and stir in the salt, garlic powder and nutmeg. Set aside.

Prepare lasagna:

In a large, deep baking dish, pour enough sauce to lightly coat the bottom of the dish. Arrange a layer of lasagna pasta on top of the sauce (uncooked pasta). Top lasagna layer with shrimp, crab, bread crumbs and Old Bay seasoning. Top seafood with 1 cup of cream sauce. Add second layer of pasta, then add the sauteed mushrooms and leaf spinach. Top with 3rd layer of lasagna pasta. Pour remaining sauce over the top of the dish. Seal tightly with plastic wrap, then cover plastic wrap with aluminum foil.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until sauce is bubbly and pasta has cooked. Remove foil and plastic wrap. Sprinkle top with cheese and allow to melt. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

** Trick to pick crab meat for shells**

Crab meat is cooked as part of the canning or packaging process. Therefore it’s ok to “heat it up”. Spread crab meat in a thin layer on a baking sheet and put in a 300F oven for 5-10 minutes. Any shells in the crab meat will turn bright pink/orange and can be easily removed. If you’re in a hurry, just work the crab meat in your hands and pick out any shells. These days, unless you buy really cheap crab meat, most of the shells have already been removed.

Cajun Seafood Gumbo

Here in Bama we’re gearing up for the game of the year.. the undefeated Crimson Tide plays the undefeated LSU Tigers this Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. This is the game that should decide who plays for the National Championship, so I’m going all out and making a championship recipe for tailgating on the quad.

Seafood gumbo takes a little time to prepare (and a lot of money to buy the ingredients). Gumbo can be made with seafood, chicken and sausage, sausage and seafood, etc.. it’s up to you and your taste. All you need to do is vary the recipe. If you love shrimp but hate oysters, leave them out. Try substituting the oysters with some diced up fish fillets, add some crawfish tails, etc. The trick to a flavorful gumbo is the roux. Roux is simply equal parts fat (oil, butter, etc) and flour cooked to varying stages based on color. For a simple biscuit gravy, you make a light roux. For a rich gumbo, you want a DARK roux, which is achieved by cooking down, stirring constantly, until the roux achieves the color you desire.

All Cajun cooking starts with a “trinity”. A trinity is a mixture of onions, bell peppers and celery and it is the basis for every recipe from the swamps.

To make a large pot of seafood gumbo:

  •  2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 3 medium yellow onions, sliced
  • 3 bell peppers, finely diced
  • 1 bunch of celery, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 32oz bottle of clam juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch of green onions (scallions) chopped
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 pint oysters, shucked (do not drain)
  • 1 pint crab meat (picked for shells)
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
In a large, heavy bottomed stock pot, over medium heat, heat the oil until hot. Add the flour, whisking constantly. Continue to cook and the roux will turn from a blonde roux, to sand, to light brown, to caramel color. Once it reaches caramel color, turn down the heat and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the roux is a dark brown color. The darker the color, the more flavorful the gumbo.
Increase the heat back to medium and add the garlic, onions, celery and bell peppers to the roux. Cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.
Add the oregano, Old Bay, bay leaves, thyme and cayenne. Mix well, then add the clam juice, water, green onions and parsley. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the shrimp, crab meat, oysters and their liquor (the juice in the pint with the oysters), then add the salt, pepper and some Tabasco sauce. Reduce the heat to as low as your cooktop will go and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring frequently to prevent the flour from burning.
Remove from the heat and serve over cooked white rice.
Let Les Miles dine on Bentgrass while you enjoy this delicious dish!