This might be my very favorite way to eat lettuce. I love this salad. I've been making it since before we had kids. We eat it for our main course. Every once in a while a spring or fall passes and I've realized I have completely forgotten to make it. So, I kick myself and make a mental note (this is likely why I forget) to make it next time we have lettuce. This fall, I did not forget. Good for me. Good for you.
Before I give you the recipe, let's get educated, shall we?
Caesar salad [SEE-zer] A salad consisting of greens (classically romaine lettuce) tossed with a vinaigrette dressing (made with Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice), grated Parmesan cheese, croutons, a coddled egg and sometimes anchovies. It is said to have been created in 1924 by Italian chef Caesar Cardini, who owned a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico.*
So, there you have it. Now, if you're like me, you need some further explanation...
Coddle A cooking method most often used with eggs, though other foods can be coddled as well. There are special containers with tight-fitting lids called "egg coddlers" made specifically for this purpose. Coddling is usually done by placing the food in an individual-size container that is covered, set in a larger pan of simmering water and placed either on stove top or in the oven at very low heat. The gentle warmth of the water bath slowly cooks the food. Coddling can also be done by gently lowering the food into water that's come to a boil and removed from the heat.*
Okay, now for the good news. The recipe I'm about to give you does not call for coddling anything and it also does not call for anchovies. Can I hear an Amen?
Chicken Caesar Salad (adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2001)
2-3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
1 large head of lettuce, romaine or otherwise, torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup red bell peppers, sliced OR
1 cup diced roasted tomatoes
5 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice (bottled or fresh)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups plain croutons, optional
In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, chicken and the bell peppers or roasted tomatoes.
Combine the remaining ingredients (minus the croutons) in a small bowl and stir with a whisk. Pour over the salad and toss well. Sprinkle with croutons and serve.
* Quotes taken from Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst.