Healthy Caesar Salad w/ Crispy Capers
Now that I am fast approaching the ripe age of 29, I have realized a few things about myself. I have been having a bit of a quarrel with my inner being and I have these moments when I forget who I am, or perhaps what I like, or what I really want. For example, when at the local coffee shop I often look at the menu like I have never seen it before and have no idea what I have a hankering for. Because I don’t like to hold up a line, I quickly decide on a hazelnut macchiato or some fancy warm drink that doesn’t suit me. All along, I wanted coffee. Just a cup of black coffee… simple and straightforward. I usually leave the shop with disappointment and regret. Why do I do this to myself? The other day, when Kris and I were celebrating a close friends birthday, he went to the bar to get us drinks, he asked me what I wanted and I could not make a clear decision. Did I want to be as I was in my early twenties, and get straight to the point with a beer and a shot of tequila? Was I feeling more mature with a Ketel One and Soda? Or should I stick to what I know I love, a glass of red wine? The options were haunting me! It was like I couldn’t decide which person I was anymore. I ordered the vodka-soda and sipped it down, but felt it never really hit the spot. I should have ordered the wine. These internal battles take the best of me! I made a conscious decision soon after to stop this chaos and embrace the fact that I actually do know exactly what I want. I will forever walk in to the coffee shop and feel completely ok with a black cup of joe, and then when out with friends, I will be throughly fine with a nice glass of cabernet. I have reached an age where I am happy to announce that I have wholly decided on certain things that I cherish and that I want to appreciate this exact moment. This is the purpose for this post in particular.
If Kris were to order a salad, when we dine out, it will almost always be a classic caesar. He is a big fan of crispy and crunchy lettuce with a cheesy dressing. For me, I rarely choose this option. I hate that restaurant caesar salads are made with romaine lettuce. Sometimes, when my indecisive past-self, was faced with the decision on which salad to choose I would occasionally pick that fresh crispy romaine caesar, and the amount of times I experienced disappointment was perpetual. I have this philosophy, that if the salad isn’t held up by any cruciferous or super green lettuces then it is somewhat wasteful and provides a lot of empty calories. This is why I love a good arugula, kale, or spinach salad as my starter. A salad where you can see the nutrients, literally. I decided that this does not have to be a “black and white” decision any longer. We can love a caesar salad for its tangy and creamy dressing, keep the classic crunch, and add vegetables that make it worth our while. That is why I love this recipe. The dressing is amazing, and quite possibly my favorite Caesar dressing I have ever tasted. It makes quite a bit so you will have a fresh jar on hand for about a week. The crispy capers and olive bread croutons add so much more texture than typical caesars require, so there will never be any mistakes/fails in future salad meals. Cheers to making decisions and openly declaring what we know we adore! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do in our home!
- 2 TBSP whole-grain dijon mustard
- 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
- 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp worcestershire
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp anchovy paste (see note)*
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup capers, drained
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- about 1/2 of an olive bread baguette
- drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 romaine heart, chopped
- 1 10oz bag “Cruciferous Crunch Collection” (see note)*
- a few shavings of a good Pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish
- Combine all ingredients, except the olive oil, in the bowl of food processor or blender and pulse to combine. While the motor is running, slowly pour in the olive oil until it is emulsified and combined well. Set the dressing aside. (Store the dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for about ten days)
- Drain the capers from their juice in a fine mesh sieve. Place the capers between a few a paper towels to dry them well. In a medium sautee pan, add the oil and heat on high heat until almost smoking. Add the capers and fry them for about 3-4 minutes or until they begin to open up, like little flowers, and become crispy. Turn off the heat, and pour the capers and oil onto several layered paper towels on a plate, to drain the excess oil. Set the crisped capers aside.
- Preheat oven to 350. I find that ripping the pieces from the baguette, instead of dicing into squares, yields more rustic looking croutons. The ripped up pieces of bread also get more dressing in all the little nooks and crannies. Rip up about half of one a baguette, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until desired crunchiness is reached.
- Combine the romaine heart and cruciferous greens in a large bowl and mix with your hands. Add the crispy capers and the olive bread croutons and pour as much or as little dressing as you like into the salad. Mix to combine with salad tongs. Top with a few shavings of the Pecorino Romano and serve immediately. (This salad does hold up pretty well, as the cruciferous veggies are pretty sturdy. I was still eating mine dressed from the fridge for another day!)
- Anchovy paste is what makes Caesar dressing so unique and it really gives a lot of flavor. I highly recommend that you use it. If you are vegan, it is ok to omit it, but do add a tiny bit more salt to taste.
- I love the bag of salad called “Cruciferous Crunch Collection” from Trader Joe’s. It has a mix of kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, green cabbage, and red cabbage. I use the entire bag mixed with 1 chopped romaine heart. Please feel free to make your own combination if you cannot find this near you; I would substitute 2 cups shredded kale, 2 cups shaved brussels, 1 cup shredded red cabbage, 1 cup shredded green cabbage. You can add more romaine and less of the others if that suits you as well.