Monday, September 15, 2014

Summer Caesar Salad

There were Caesars and there were Caesars, some I could champion, like Justinian and others whose behavior I find questionable, like the ilk of Caligula.  For example, the invasion of England?  Going to the Senate without undercover armor?  Thumbs down on Christians in the Coliseum?   But I think most would agree that the simple salad in the name of Caesar, made of romaine lettuce, crunchy croutons, parmesan cheese, and a bit of garlic, was one inspired decision and will make Caesar's title live forever!  I have no noble Roman blood or particular right to interpret Caesaric inspiration but certainly I might be forgiven for inviting other subtle flavors to join his loyal legions. Sweet red peppers, firm ripe avocados and subtle red onion add a light piquant note of a patrician nature and a creaminess that melds elegantly with the dressing.  But don't use the red onion instead of white, in the dressing - a pink tinge might be just a bit too feminine and may find you thrown into the coliseum.  Try this untraditional version of a favorite American salad for a change....and if worried about being presumptuous, don't call it Caesar's.

Caesar Salad with Red Pepper and Avocado

      1 large head romaine lettuce, cored and coarsely cubbed
      3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
      1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced, about 1/2 inch slices
      1 sweet red pepper, cored and seeded, cut in julienne slices
      1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced veriically in 1/2 inch slices

     -Chill lettuce.  In large bowl, combine lettuce and all but 1/3 
     cup salad dressing.  Arrange salad on large serving platter or 
     on individual salad plates.  Top with croutons.  Arrange 
     avocado, red pepper and onion slices around edge of salad. 
     Drizzle remaining 1/3 cups salad dressing on vegetable slices
     and sprinkle entire plate with grated parmesan cheese  (or
     garnish with a parmesan cheese crisp) and more
     freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

      1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
      1/2 medium white or yellow onion
      1 tab. Dijon mustard
      1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
      1 - 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
      freshly ground black pepper to taste

      -Combine dressing ingredients in food processor.  Blend until 
       smooth and then chill.

     4 cups cubed french bread or baguette
     1 clove garlic, finely minced
     5 tab. finely grated parmesan cheese
     1/3 cup olive oil

     -Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine the 
      garlic, cheese and oil.  Pour onto baking sheet.  Cover with 
      bread cubes and toss to coat.  Bake until crisp, about 10 

Optional:  To make the salad a complete meal, mix cooked shredded chicken into the salad when you add the dressing or place a grilled chicken breast or salmon fillet on the top of each individual serving of the salad.

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