A light and lovely shrimp salad with a fresh dill and lemon dressing is the perfect meal for your summer outdoor activities. Pack it along as part of a picnic lunch or serve it as a quick and easy meal at home. (Skip to recipe.)

shrimp salad with lemon and dill dressing

I am so lucky to have friends who own a sailboat – lucky to have the chance to see the sails billowing above me and feel the wind whipping my hair as the boat skims across the sparkling water. Ever since I was a teenager I have loved seeing sailboats. They stir up a sense of freedom and longing for adventure in my soul, and when our friends bought a sailboat a few years ago, I was thrilled for the chance to fulfill these long-ago yearnings, even if only occasionally.

sailboats on Wabamun Lake, shrimp salad

sailboats on Wabamun Lake, Alberta

When my friend Sabine invited me out for a girl’s night on the boat, I was as excited as a a preschooler going to her first sleepover. I packed up my sleeping bag and a cooler of munchies and slipped away from my long list of weeding and chores, to head for the lake. As Rat says, in Wind in the Willows, “There’s nothing––absolutely nothing––half so much worth doing as messing about in boats.”

Oh yes, he is so right. I grew up around boats; fishing boats and motor boats and river boats. My dad was a fishing-crazy man. He designed and built river boats as a sideline, and fulfilled his dream by becoming a commercial fisherman on Vancouver Island for a time, when I was in my late teens. In fact, our wedding pictures were taken on his fishing boat. So, for me to get a chance to ‘mess around in boats’ again brings back those years.

And sailboats are especially soul-filling – even when you just get to mess around in them while they’re docked in the bay.

shrimp salad, sailboats docked at the marina

To start off our girl’s afternoon, we had a great ride on one of Sabine’s friend’s boats – the wind was bracing and the boat was flying. We worked up an appetite for a wonderful barbecue dinner on the deck at the sailing clubhouse. This light and very tasty shrimp salad I brought along was the perfect starter for our grilled salmon, mushrooms and salads, with some grilled peaches for dessert .  . .

shrimp salad served on the sailboat

. . . all the while looking out at the water and hearing the red-winged blackbirds warbling, punctuated by the occasional loon calling. No restaurant can beat that.

shrimp salad, packing the sailboat

Sabine organizing the bedding for the sleepover on the boat

After a glass of wine on the deck we settled in to our berths for the night, with the sounds of the water lapping against the sides of the sailboat. The gentle rocking lulled us to sleep. (Luckily Sabine survived my snoring – I think!) In the morning we had a lazy breakfast on the boat under a sunny blue sky, and afterwards we paddled around in kayaks to explore the reeds and shore life along the edges of the little bay.

shrimp salad, breakfast on the sailboat

tea and breakfast on the boat – to the sound of the waves gently lapping

Wonderful day.

shrimp salad, and the two skippers

Skipper Ian on the left, and Raymond (right) gets to steer the boat

shrimp salad, spinnaker sail

when there’s no wind – up goes the colourful spinnaker to catch the breezes

When I get to experience wonderful days like this, it’s hard to believe I’m in landlocked northern Alberta.

This light and lovely shrimp salad is great for a lunch on boar a sailboat, but it’s pretty delicious right on your picnic table, too!

cooked shrimp for shrimp salad

chopped veggies for shrimp salad

fresh dill and lemon for the shrimp salad

all the ingredients for the shrimp salad, ready to toss

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: I don’t always de-seed my tomatoes in salads, but in this one, where I don’t want the added wateriness they give, I do. Instructions are below.

deseeding tomatoes for shrimp salad

I use frozen shrimp for this salad, because we’re not lucky enough to have easy access to fresh shrimp – plus they’re much more convenient for lazy old me. But all the brands I can find have added salt, so you need to add little-to-no salt in the dressing. If using fresh shrimp, taste and salt accordingly.

shrimp salad with dill fronds and lemon dill dressing

Shrimp Salad with Lemon Dill Dressing

  • 12 oz (340gms) small cooked shrimp (fresh, or frozen and thawed)
  • 2 long stalks celery (1 – 1¼ cups/240 -300 ml diced)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • ½ cup (120ml) diced sweet onion
  • ¼ cup (60ml) chopped fresh dill (a small handful)
  • grated zest of half a lemon (organic if possible)
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons good mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I use avocado oil)
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • salt to taste (I use ¼ teaspoon when I use frozen shrimp)

If using frozen shrimp, thaw them by leaving them in cold water for about 1 hour, or put them in a sieve under cold running water and they will thaw very quickly. Drain them well and pat them gently dry with paper towels or a clean cloth to remove as much moisture as possible. If you have easy access to fresh shrimp – lucky you, but you will have to cook them and shell them, then make sure they are as dry as you can get them.

Dice the celery and sweet onion.

De-seed the tomatoes. To do this: cut them in half ‘around the equator’ (horizontally) and with your fingers gently dig out and discard the seeds and jelly-ish juices from the 3 or 4 cavity sections in each tomato half. Dice the tomatoes.

In a large bowl combine the shrimp, celery, tomatoes, onions and dill.

Grate the zest of half a lemon over, and add the lemon juice, mayonnaise, oil, and pepper. Toss gently.

Taste for seasoning, and add a little salt if it needs it. Serve immediately or chill the salad in the refrigerator for an hour or two ahead, and toss again just before serving.

Garnish with a few dill fronds, and serve with buns or thinly sliced whole grain bread and butter. Or put into small cups or glasses and serve chilled as an appetizer – kind of a variation on a shrimp cocktail.

Makes about 5 cups.

Guten Appetit!


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shrimp salad, sails in the sunlight