Saturday, 16 March 2013

greek yoghurt caesar



... in an attempt to get back on track with the old weight-loss thingy I thought i'd play around with my favourite salad, the classic caesar... the stalwart of every trendy gastro-pub from here to soho, it always amazes me how such a simple salad can be prepared with so many different variations and techniques when the basic ingredients are so simple.  Invented in 1924 by restauranteur Caesar Cardini this salad became something of an act of theatre as it was made 'table-side' by tossing the Cos lettuce leaves in a mixture of garlic infused olive oil, egg, lemon juice and worcester sauce and then topped with garlicky croutons and grated parmesan... the often debated addition of anchovies is a far more recent inclusion, one that I love as I think the intense saltiness works beautifully with the bitter leaves... I have a deep rooted memory of my American aunt Beth making the salad at my mums house back in the late 70's or early 80's... she started by crushing garlic and anchovies in the bowl first and then adding the rest of the classic ingredients... I think both my mum and I stared, slack-jawed at the marvel of fresh caesar dressing!


... the only issue i've ever had with this dressing is that it includes anchovies and parmesan cheese which, unless you've been living under a crouton for the past 60 years, are not vegetarian and so whist I can enjoy this gloriously creamy salad, The Viking cannot. So this is my attempt to redress the balance in favour of the vegetarian and by deconstructing the basic dressing i've been able to re-build it to recreate the incredible taste and flavour without the nasty little bits of the once living... and of course on stumbling through the design I hit the idea of creating a marinade dressing... to be eaten simply as is or that can be used to marinate chicken or a chicken substitute as i've done here...


greek yoghurt caesar marinade dressing with grilled chicken and peas
i've used boneless and skinless chicken thighs to serve with this salad as they are quite literally dirt cheap and so much tastier than plain old breasts... i've also used some quorn chicken style fillets as you know The Viking loves his meat substitutes and they do work brilliantly in this salad... i'm treating them in exactly the same way as the chicken except I sauted them until golden on both sides, instead of grilling them like I did with the chicken... i've got to say they tasted exceptionally good and very tender... i've also been using a vegetarian hard cheese which is as close to parmesan as you can get and i've had some very good results with it... the left-over salad dressing lasted for about 4 days in the fridge...

for the marinade dressing
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon english mustard powder
the zest and juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons home-made free-range egg mayonnaise
5 tablespoons greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons finely grated vegetarian parmesan cheese (or vegetarian substitute which both Morrisons and Sainsbury's are now selling)

6 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
2 cos lettuce
a handful of frozen peas
1 extra lemon and some more parmesan for the final dressing

start by crushing the garlic with a pinch of salt... I do this the old-fashioned way with the edge of a large flat knife but you can use a garlic press if pressed for time... then throw this into a bowl along with the olive oil, lemon juice and zest and mustard powder and beat together with a fork

add the mayo and the yogurt and mix together well, then add the parmesan and mix together one last time.

now take the chicken thighs and lay them onto a length of cling-film.  Place a second length of cling-film on top and bash them with a rolling pin to flatten them out... this will both tenderise the thighs and also help reduce the cooking time to ensure an even grill... place the thighs in a bowl and add 4 tablespoons of the caesar dressing marinade using your hands to massage it into the chicken so it's entirely coated.  Cover the chicken and place it in the fridge for at least an hour.... at this stage you can do the same with the frozen vegetarian quorn pieces, or it would also work really well with thick slices of courgette...

next you want to arrange your cos lettuce for the salad... I favour the whole leaf salad, fanned out in a bowl but admittedly this is tricky to eat so go ahead and chop it up if you like... this will create the mattress for your salad...

you can either pan-fry or grill your chicken, I chose to grill it until golden and bubbly... let it cool slightly before slicing and arranging on the salad, followed by the peas, which you've boiled for a second or two and then some liberal dribbling of the remainder of the dressing.

a shaving of the parmesan and a squeeze of lemon and you're ready to serve.

eat and of course, enjoy!

23 comments:

  1. I'll be trying that dressing Dom. Thank you :)

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  2. Gosh that looks so lovely and fresh-tasting.
    I am beginning to feel less like eating stodge and yearing for salads....if only we had the weather to go with them....sigh....

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    1. I meant yearning of course....fingers are so cold I keep missing the keys!

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  3. The dressing sounds delicious - role on the salad season - ie a bit of sun please!

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  4. I love how you've arranged the salad almost like finger food!

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  5. Gorgeous! Though I'm carnivore through and through, I'm no fan of the anchovy, so this all right up my street.

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  6. I adore Caesar salad, not sure how it would be without the anchovies, but I'm sure you will have made something very delicious.

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  7. My all-time favorite salad ... and easy go-to for busy days when you know you should eat light, but want some complexity of flavour ... there's nothing like a good Caesar salad dressing ... great post, Dom!

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  8. As my taste buds have matured over the years I have come to enjoy the addition of anchovies and olives in dressings. It can be tricky sometimes cooking for people with difficult taste buds, but I think you have pulled it off with this lovely dressing. Hopefully we will still have some hot days left this summer/autumn so I can give this a try.

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  9. I need to jump on the ol' diet bandwagon before my holiday so will be adding this to my repertoire!

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  10. Timely for me as I have just been told my cholesterol is a bit high and I'm trying to tweak my diet to reduce it, rather than resort to tablets. I'm always grateful for inspiration and this salad looks delicious.

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  11. Disneyboi and I are Caesar salad addicts! Must give this a try - thank you!

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  12. Always a pleasure to read you. And I always learn something: today Cos and Romaine are the same lettuce. Who knew?

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  13. Caesar salad is one of my favourites and I love the idea of this dressing with the greek yoghurt, definitely going to try this one!

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  14. Gorgeous - sadly this is also one for eating out doors with a glass of wine under a warm summer sun. Can't wait!

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  16. Sounds gorgeous dom! Def a salad I could happily eat without feeling too virtuous and shortchanged :p

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  17. This brings back memories of lazy lunches on hot summer days... roll on sunshine please!!

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  19. Love this recipe, Dom! I try and make large salads for dinner at least once a week and I've been on a Caesar salad type kick for a while now.. trying different types of dressings... can't wait to try this one!!

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  20. LOVELY LOVELY recipe Dom! I am sorry I am late replying - been a bit down as just learned that my daughter has lost her job :-( BUT, if you make me this FAB salad and deliver it in person avec vin, I may cheer up!!! Karen

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  21. I order this out all the time. I also make my own dressing with anchovies(I love them) I bet the Viking appreciates your thoughtfulness in preparing this delicious salad in a vegetarian version. Great healthy recipe

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  22. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post."

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