This easy caesar salad is simple but delicious.  Don’t be alarmed about the long list of ingredients. If you’re short for time, just make the dressing ahead of time, buy the pre-washed romaine and make your croutons.  The homemade croutons are worth the effort –soft on the inside but crispy outside, and a perfect use for slightly stale bread.  Add chicken or shrimp for an extra protein hit, or I like vegetarian options such as chickpeas and roasted corn. And lately, I’ve been roasting chickpeas as a snack which I think might be great for some crunch instead of the croutons (on the healthier side).

Easy Caesar Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 20 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • img_00792-3 heads romaine lettuce
  • Dressing:  oils, lemon juice, garlic, Worcestershire Sauce, S+P (details below)
  • Croutons:  unsliced bread, olive oil, butter, piece of parmesan (details below)
  • Optional additions to the salad include grilled chicken or fish, chickpeas and roasted corn.

Ingredients for the dressing:

  •  1/4 C. plus 2T olive oil
  •  1/4 C. plus 2T vegetable oil (I prefer canola)
  •  1/4 C. fresh lemon juice
  •  2 minced garlic cloves
  •  1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  •  salt and freshly ground pepper
  •  1/4 freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Ingredients for the croutons:

  • unsliced bread:  whole wheat or white – your preference, or whatever is on hand; slightly stale works well, as long as it’s not too dry
  • equal amounts of olive oil and butter (2-4 T of each, depending on how much bread you have)
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese (store bought powdery version doesn’t work well for this).

Directions

  1. For the dressing, blend both oils, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and garlic in a blender (or whisk by hand, drizzling the oils into the other ingredients as you whisk).
  2. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
  3. Reserve the parmesan to add directly onto the salad. This will ensure the leftover dressing will keep well in the fridge. if you think you’ll use the whole batch, feel free to stir the parmesan into the dressing.
  4. For the croutons, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.
  5. Cut the crust off the bread and then break the bread, by hand, into small pieces (depending on how small you want your croutons).
  6. Heat the oil in a heavy oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat and add in the butter.
  7. When the butter is almost melted, add in the croutons (as many as can fit on one layer) and quickly toss them to cover all sides in the oil/butter.  Do this before the butter burns.  Immediately top with salt and pepper.
  8. Stir the croutons in the pan to slightly toast as many sides as possible. If you stir it too often they won’t brown – not often enough and you’ll burn them.
  9. When they are mostly toasted, remove from the heat, push the croutons together in the pan, then generously grate the cheese on top (so the cheese goes on the croutons and not directly on the pan).
  10. Toss lightly and place in the oven for about 5 minutes. Remove when crispy, but don’t leave them so long that they dry out. Cool slightly. These will keep for a couple days if you have extra (also great as a soup topper).
  11. Wash and carefully dry romaine leaves, then tear into bite size strips.
  12. Toss romaine with half the dressing that you think you need (better not to over-dress). Add freshly grated parmesan cheese and toss again. Taste. Add salt and pepper, and more dressing and/or parmesan as needed. Top with croutons (which you can leave on top toss in).

croutons

Lessons Learned/Advice:

      • I never end up using all the dressing so I always keep the cheese separate.
      • I have skipped the oven step with the croutons (especially if this is the only reason I need the oven heated for as it seems a waste just for croutons; but if I’m cooking chicken or something, then it’s going on anyways). The croutons are crispier if you bake them for 5 minutes.
      • You can cut the bread into even squares but I’ve found the hand tearing gives them a rustic look and they absorb more of the butter & olive. But if my bread is particularly dense or stale, cutting is much easier than breaking by hand.
      • Make sure you dry the lettuce well or the water will prevent the dressing from sticking (and you get a flavorless salad); remember that the dark parts of the lettuce has more nutrients so include as much of the dark leafy greens as you can.

Vegan & GF Variation:

Easily adapted for vegan or gluten free eating.

GF:  Substitute gluten free bread to make the croutons.  Alternatively, consider roasted chick peas (which I’ll post about at some later date).

Vegan:  For the salad use nutritional yeast instead of parmesan.  For the croutons use all olive oil  (instead of 1/2 butter 1/2 olive oil) and add just salt and pepper (skip the parmesan on top of the croutons).

Credits:

I found the salad dressing online.  Thanks to “Realtor by Day, Chef by Night”

The crouton recipe is my own – after many trials and errors.

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