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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

parmesan pinwheels and caesar salad {recipe}

L. and I love Caesar salad. On a warm night, the tangy, complex taste of a Caesar salad with fresh bread dipped in olive oil is our favorite go-to dinner. I recently spent a day perfecting this simple meal, making batch after batch of dressing and croutons. The 8th dressing try was the one. By using fresh ingredients and making your own croutons and dressing, this salad is elevated to meal status. It's the sublime quick choice for a warm, balmy evening.

{Caesar Salad for two}

1 head of Romaine lettuce (or a bag of Romaine, washed and ready to use) 
Homemade croutons
Homemade Dressing
Parmesan Pinwheels

Wash, dry and chop Romaine lettuce into bite size pieces (alternatively use a bag of pre-washed and chopped Romaine.) Place in large bowl. Add croutons, toss with dressing and serve with Parmesan Pinwheels.

We taste tested three different olive oils from different regions to see which one had the most intense flavor. Our friend's small batch olive oil from his dad's vineyard in Italy won hand's down.

{Homemade Croutons}

1/2 a long baguette
3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut croutons into 1 inch cubes. Toss with olive oil and place on cookie sheet. Cook for 7 minutes or until golden and toasted. Let cool and add to Romaine lettuce.

I used a French baguette but you can use any bread you may have. A hearty bread (like a French baguette) makes for croutons that hold their crunch when tossed with the dressing.

{Caesar Salad Dressing}

2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon lemon zest
juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
dash of salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to blender and puree until emulsified. Use immediately.

I don't prefer Caesar dressing with raw eggs and I found that this recipe still retains that Caesar salad taste even without the eggs. You may be tempted to slip the anchovy paste. I made a batch without the dressing and it missed that tangy saltiness that you get with the anchovy taste. Try to forget it's in there if the thought of anchovies in a tin makes you queasy. The paste is easy to use and mess free.

{Parmesan Pinwheels}

4 ounces of shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place 2 tablespoons of Parmesan on parchment paper and flatten out until it's about 2 inches in diameter. Continue making Parmesan discs on the cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.

Place in oven for cook for 6 minutes or until golden. Let cool and peel from parchment paper. Serve on salad or as a high protein snack.

I tried this with home shredded high quality (expensive) Parmesan as well as the store brand  (inexpensive) from our local market. The store brand pre-shredded cheese worked best here. Use immediately.

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