When I was in 3rd grade, I began to learn more about health and nutrition. On one of our biweekly trips to Costco, I decided to order their Chicken Caesar Salads rather than my usual order of pepperoni pizza. As I devoured my first bite, I thought this salad was the best thing that ever existed. I tried to recreate it at home but my mom never bought the necessary jar of dressing, defending her actions by telling me how much fat, salt, and sugar is added to store-bought dressing. She would then proceed to make a simple lemon and olive oil dressing, which topped practically every salad. It wasn’t until I went to Costa Rica a year or two later when I learned that a Caesar Salad dressing could easily be recreated.
In Costa Rica, I had order a Caesar Salad and the waiter brought out my salad but assembled it in front of me; he ground together the dressing using a mortar and pestle, and then toss the salad before serving it. The way he made the dressing caught me eye and won my heart. I realized that Caesar Salad dressings can be just as tasty without the mayonnaise, which brings in all the extra unhealthy fat that is not necessary. While this dressing is not as creamy as the traditional one, it still is embodies the traditional dressing through its flavor. This simple salad is great to bring to work or school, or to serve when you have guests. Now, you don’t need to go down to Costa Rica to enjoy a healthier Caesar Salad, you can enjoy it at home.
- 2 cups of crusty bread, cut into cubes
- 14 ounces green kale (rib removed) and romaine lettuce hearts, in roughly equal amounts, washed and dried
- 1 large garlic clove
- 4 anchovies
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, more to taste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
- 1 poached egg
- 4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan, plus an extra chunk for serving
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread pieces of bread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until golden and crisp. Let cool.
Trim the leaves of romaine and kale into roughly 1-2 inch size pieces
In a blender or mortar and pestle, combine the garlic, anchovies, mustard, a large pinch of salt, about a dozen grinds of black pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, and egg. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings with mustard, oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Transfer to a container with a tightfitting lid, and chill until ready to use.
When ready to serve fluff the greens and dress with half the dressing. Add more dressing, to your preference, and toss in the croutons. Top with ground pepper. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
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This recipe was adapted from The New York Times