On our recent visit to the Florida Keys we enjoyed some really tasty seafood. On the last day we packed our bags and started the drive back to the mainland to get ready to catch our flight home. We stopped in Islamorada to have lunch and found this lovely restaurant called Lazy Days where we enjoyed an ocean view lunch from the second story patio. I was intrigued when I read the description of the “Billings Salad”. It was a big bowl of salad greens topped with Coconut Shrimp, Fried Cream Cheese, Apples, Grapes and Caramelized Walnuts with a Raspberry Vinaigrette. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I had never heard of fried cream cheese except in a Won Ton and as it turns out, the cream cheese filling tasted just like that. Their fried cream cheese was in the shape of large flat triangles and was warm and creamy. The shrimp and cream cheese completely covered the top of the salad. This salad looks very similar to the salad I had at Lazy Days although I made a couple of substitutions. It’s such a hearty salad and the warm cream cheese really compliments the rest of the ingredients. Whoever created this salad is genious! I’ve never had anything quite like it.
While the cream cheese is in the freezer, get the shrimp prepped and ready to go. It’s quite similar to the process of coating and frying the cream cheese. You can find my recipe and instructions here. Or if you prefer, there are numerous packaged frozen coconut shrimp that can be baked in the oven or pan fried.
Set them back on the baking sheet lined with wax paper. Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a deep skillet or deep fryer and bring temperature up to 350 degrees. Use a metal slotted spoon to drop the cream cheese balls in the hot oil for 1 minute.
To assemble the salad, place your greens on the bottom. I used a spring mix but you could also use romaine, red leaf or green leaf or any combination. Top with chunks of apples, dried cranberries, candied pecans, 6 coconut shrimp and 3 fried cream cheese balls.
Leafy Greens, can be any combination of Spring Greens, Romaine, Red Leaf or Green Leaf Lettuce (enough for 4 servings)
1 large Apple, cored and cut into chunks
1/3 cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Candied Pecans (I used Trader Joe’s Candied Pecans)
24 Large Coconut Shrimp, You can find my recipe and instructions here. (Or you can use packaged frozen Coconut Shrimp. Prepare according to package instructions.)
Fried Cream Cheese, recipe follows
Raspberry Vinaigrette, recipe follows
To assemble salad: Layer with leafy greens on the bottom, add chunks of apples, dried cranberries and candied pecans. Lay shrimp and fried cream cheese on top. Drizzle raspberry vinaigrette over salad.
Fried Cream Cheese
8 ounces Cream Cheese
2 teaspoons Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Green Onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup Flour
2 Eggs, whisked
1/2 cup Panko Crumbs or more for coating
Vegetable Oil or Canola Oil for frying
Prep cream cheese 3 hours prior to frying. Combine cream cheese, sugar, salt, and green onion in a food processor. Process on high until all ingredients are well combined and the cream cheese is soft and creamy. Scoop the cream cheese mixture into a bowl with a lid and refrigerate for 45 minutes. When the cream cheese has chilled and appears firm, use a 1 1/2 inch scoop to make cream cheese balls. Lay them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Place in the freezer for 2 hours.
Assemble 3 bowls with the flour, whisked eggs and panko crumbs. Coat each frozen cream cheese ball first in the flour, next in the whisked egg wash and finally roll in the panko crumbs. Place cream cheese balls back on the baking sheet with wax paper.
Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a deep skillet or fill a deep fryer with vegetable or canola oil. Heat to 350 degrees. Drop coated cream cheese balls with a slotted metal spoon into the hot oil and fry for 1 minute. Remove from hot oil and place in a bowl lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
Makes 12 Fried Cream Cheese Balls
6 ounces Raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 1/2 tablespoon Honey, add more if you prefer a sweeter vinaigrette
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat raspberries in a small saucepan over medium heat. The berries will break down and begin to release their juices. Strain the raspberries into a bowl leaving behind the seeds. You should have approximately 1/2 cup of thickened raspberry juice.
Whisk in red wine vinegar, olive oil and honey until the mixture becomes emulsified. Add more honey if you prefer a sweeter vinaigrette. Salt and pepper to taste.
Makes approximately 1 cup
Makes 4 large salads