I have discussed my love of Caesar salad before. This is nothing new. Similar to my penchant for any double/triple chocolate overdose anything, I’ll try almost any variation of Caesar salad, and chances are I’ll be happy with it. This isn’t the first Caesar recipe I’ve posted, and it probably won’t be the last, but I must say this is my current favorite. I think Caesar dressings I’ve had in restaurants all lay somewhere on a spectrum. Some are more of a lighter, oil-based dressing similar to a vinaigrette, while others are creamier (what I consider a more traditional Caesar).
This one is on the creamy side of things, with mayo taking the place of the raw eggs used in a more traditional Caesar dressing. I’m not against using raw eggs, but I love this version because I can make a batch or two of the dressing and keep it stored in the fridge with no worries. Making your own croutons is a must – they are so easy, and so delicious. You can play around with the seasonings to suit your tastes. I’m embarrassed to admit how often I used to buy the bagged Caesar salad kits, but I’m proud to say I haven’t bought one since discovering this recipe. This will definitely help save some money in the grocery budget! This recipe makes plenty of dressing and croutons so you have them leftover for a quick side dish, or another main dish if you add some chicken.
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
For the croutons:
6 slices sandwich bread (or an equivalent amount of baguette slices, about 12-15)
3 tbsp. olive oil OR 3 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried parsley
For the dressing:
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1-2 anchovies, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the salad:
2-4 chicken breast halves
Shaved Parmesan cheese
To make the croutons, preheat the oven to 300˚ F. Cut the bread into 3/4-inch cubes and place in a medium-large bowl. (Trim the crusts off if you wish – I prefer to leave them on.) Combine the olive oil or butter, garlic powder and dried parsley in a small bowl. Stir together to blend well. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes and toss gently until evenly coated.
Transfer the bread cubes to a baking sheet, spreading them out into an even layer. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 15 minutes. Check to see if the croutons are golden and crisp. If not, toss lightly and bake up to 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let cool. Transfer to an airtight container until ready to use.
To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice, water, garlic, mayonnaise, Parmesan, anchovies and pepper in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend until well combined and completely smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Wash and dry the lettuce leaves, removing the greener leafy portions if desired. Chop or tear the lettuce into bite size pieces and place it in a large bowl. Season both sides of the chicken breast halves with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken on a grill or grill pan, until golden and cooked through. Remove the chicken pieces to a plate, tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add salad dressing to the lettuce (a couple tablespoons at a time) and toss to coat. Add more dressing as desired. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and slice diagonally into long pieces.
Portion the dressed salad into serving dishes. Top with homemade croutons, grilled chicken pieces, and Parmesan shavings. Serve immediately.