The green salad you serve alongside a spicy, tomato-based shrimp and chili casserole will not be the same salad you would serve with a mild and creamy tuna-noodle casserole -- the salads for seafood casserole depend on what kind of casserole you make. That said, fresh, cool and crunchy green salads work well with most seafood casseroles, balancing the warmth, cooked textures and often rich sauces of the hot dishes.
A spicy salad balances the richness of cream or cheese in some seafood casseroles, making each dish a welcome contrast to the other. To give your green salad zing, use a spicy greens, such as chicory, arugula, watercress, mesclun or a mix with a variety of greens. Or, add spicy or strongly flavored elements to the salad, such as anchovies, sliced radishes, pickled beets or bacon bits. Dress the salad with a garlic- or mustard-based vinaigrette.
A mild lettuce, such as iceberg or butterhead, works when your seafood casserole has strong fish flavors, such as shrimp, or spicy elements, such as sausage, tomatoes, garlic or red pepper. When the casserole also contains lots of ingredients, a simple salad with only lettuce and no other elements provides a welcome contrast to the casserole's complexity. Keep the salad dressing simple as well, just tossing the lettuce with oil and vinegar and adding a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Salads With Herbs
Herbs add a hint of bitterness to any green salad and balance rich seafood casseroles. Use whole leaves or torn leaves if the leaves are large, of cilantro, parsley, tarragon or basil and chopped leaves of chives, dill or mint. Don't be shy about adding herbs -- use as much as 1/2 cup of herbs for each 2 cups of greens -- so the taste of the herbs comes through.
For a twist with green salads and seafood casseroles, pair the dishes based on national themes. For example, with an Italian-based pasta, tomato and seafood casserole, serve either a chopped Italian salad with salami and roasted red peppers or a classic Caesar salad with Romaine lettuce, garlic and anchovies. For a Asian-inspired casserole with rice, crab or shrimp and green onions, serve an Asian-style salad with pea shoots, shredded cabbage and carrots added to the greens.
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.