Some may call it blasphemy to leave out the cheese, oil, eggs and anchovies in Caesar dressing, but this concerns me less than living life without any type of Caesar dressing at all. This creamy, garlicky, and healthy “Caesar-y Salad” is just the ticket!
In addition to leaving out oil, cheese, eggs and fish, I also left out Worcestershire (a sauce that contains anchovies fermented in brine) and sugar (often molasses, high fructose corn syrup, and/or brown sugar) since concentrated and refined salts and sugars are ingredients I strive to avoid in my cooking.
I also have not included croutons, which are very traditional in Caesar salad but are usually made from white bread coated in oil and salt. In this version, I keep it simple by just using lettuce, bell pepper and avocado, but there are plenty of other items you can add to your salad without losing that wonderful Caesar taste and appeal (see Notes below).
½ cup water
1/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews (2 oz.)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon raisins
1-2 medium cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 large head Romaine lettuce
1 avocado, pitted and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1. Place all of the dressing ingredients into a blender and set aside. Chop or tear the washed lettuce leaves into bite-sized pieces, and place into a large salad bowl with the diced red bell pepper and avocado.
2. Blend the dressing ingredients until creamy. Pour half of the dressing over the salad and toss, adding more as needed and to your tastes (save any leftover dressing in the refrigerator for up to five days). Serve with a little ground black pepper. Dressing is best added just before serving.
Preparation: 15 minutes
Makes: 1 cup dressing; salad serves: 4-6
Salad additions: Add any veggies you like, such as grated carrots, zucchini, cabbage or beets, green onions, tomatoes, celery, peas, sprouts or chopped fresh basil. And instead of the commonly added croutons or chicken, try some roasted potato chunks seasoned with granulated garlic and/or poultry seasoning.
The cheesy look: If you would like a Parmesan cheese look, use a rotary cheese grater to add a light dusting of walnuts or cashews to the top of the salad (as shown in top photo). For thicker “cheese” shavings, peel the brown outer layer from a jicama and discard, then peel some of the white flesh into your salad (see photo directly below).
Garlic-eee: Caesar dressing is known for its garlicky punch. But there can be a big taste difference between 1 and 2 cloves, depending on the size. I usually start with 1 clove and then taste it after blending; if it needs more, I add a second clove (or half a clove).
Caesar salad is said to have been invented by restaurateur Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant to the US who first made the dish in 1924. When he ran out of his usual salad ingredients, he had to make do and came up with Caesar salad. However, he used whole lettuce leaves instead of chopped and did not use anchovies.
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