A twist on Caesar salad.

Baby its cold outside, yet all I want is fresh summer food, like berries, heirloom tomatoes and corn on the cob. Forget gooey mac and cheese, soups and stews, give me a big old bowl of salad instead. Coats, hats and scarves are clunky enough, I don’t need a meal to match. But until the barometer catches up to my appetite, I’ll have to wait and improvise.

Inspired by this post, I threw together a Caesar salad with homemade Parmesan croutons that was light and fresh and surprisingly filling. I skipped the avocado slices, because I am completely insane (we had just made guacamole the day before, but what kind of sorry excuse is that?!). Instead, I added red bell pepper, onion and some shaved fennel, which gives the salad a delightful twist. Top it off with some grilled chicken, and you won’t miss those hearty winter stews. Except next time, please, for my sake, add in that avocado.

“Caesar” Salad with Parmesan Croutons
Adapted from foodblogandthedog.wordpress.com
serves 2

For the croutons:

1/4 whole grain baguette or rustic style bread cut into 1 inch cubes
2 or 3 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
Finely grated Parmesan

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cubed bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper and finely grated Parmesan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden.

For the Salad:
1-2 Romaine hearts
1 avocado, sliced (oops)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, sliced
1/4 bulb fennel, shaved fine
1-2 thin chicken breasts, seasoned with salt, pepper, a pinch of cayenne and grilled

These are approximately the portions I used, but no recipe is really needed for this part. Just have fun, and try different ingredients. You can add slivered almonds or chickpeas or olives or anything you like.

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons Veganese (I like the taste better than mayo and it has no cholesterol)
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 or 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 or 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper

Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk together mayo and lemon juice. Drizzle in olive oil slowly while whisking to incorporate. Taste it to see if the proportions are to your liking. Add salt and pepper. Taste again. Adjust ingredients as needed. (You can also add a pinch of cumin or a teaspoon of whole grain mustard, just to change things up).

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