Monday, August 4, 2014

Chicken Caesar Salad - Light and nutritious

One of the most appreciated variants of Caesar salad adds just one ingredient: grilled or baked chicken breast, for a satisfying and yet light meal

Caesar salad is one of the most popular salads around the world being named after its creator Caesar Cardini (and not after Julius Caesar as many people believe). Simple in appearance, but sophisticated and subtle in flavor, Caesar salad is highlighted by the pungent taste of Parmesan and a complex dressing set off by the crunchy croutons and Romaine lettuce.

One of the most appreciated variants of Caesar salad adds just one ingredient: grilled or baked chicken breast, for a satisfying and yet light meal

One of the most appreciated variants of Caesar salad adds just one ingredient: grilled or baked chicken breast, for a satisfying and yet light meal. In this recipe, I preferred using oven baked chicken because it's healthier than the grilled one. Chicken Caesar salad is therefore ideal for quick and nutritious lunch or dinner.

One of the most appreciated variants of Caesar salad adds just one ingredient: grilled or baked chicken breast, for a satisfying and yet light meal

Preparing the classic Caesar salad dressing can be a little challenging but with a little practice and patience the result will be amazing. It's basically an olive oil-based vinaigrette thickened with egg yolk until it develops a rich and creamy consistency. It's tangy flavor is elevated by the use of garlic and anchovies.

Yield: 4 servings                                                 Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts
  • 125 g (2 cups) bread, cut into small cubes
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) + 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 anchovies
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar 
  • 2 large head of Romaine lettuces, leaves chopped into bite size 
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated + more for garnish
  • salt
  • pepper
  • thyme
  • smoked paprika
 Directions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 205°C (400°F). Grease a 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with oil.
  2. Brush both sides of chicken with oil and season with salt, pepper, thyme and smoked paprika. Place in baking dish.
  3. Bake uncovered 25 to 35 minutes or until juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.
  4. Cool chicken 10 to 15 minutes and then slice it.
  5. Sprinkle the bread cubes with salt and pepper. Arrange cubes on an ungreased cookie sheet. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the bread cubes.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven (400°F) for 10 minutes or until browned. Let them cool. 
  7. Rub the croutons with 3 garlic cloves.
  8. Prepare the dressing: Mash the anchovies with a fork against the side of a large salad bowl. Crush the remaining garlic cloves with a garlic crusher and add it to the salad bowl. Whisk the red wine vinegar, egg yolk and Worcestershire sauce into the anchovy mixture until it's smooth and creamy. Gradually whisk olive oil into the dressing, pouring the oil into the dressing in a thin stream while stirring constantly. Season with salt and black pepper. It should be the consistency of yogurt.
  9. Add the lettuce leaves, croutons and Parmesan cheese to the salad bowl. Toss to combine.
  10. Add the sliced chicken on top of the salad.
  11. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese on top and serve straight away.
Enjoy!

Tips and Tricks:
  • If the salad dressing is too thick stir in a few tablespoons water to thin it.
  • This recipe calls for raw eggs. While it’s perfectly safe for healthy adults to consume raw eggs, the elderly, pregnant women, or anyone with a delicate immune system should not.
  • Contrary to popular belief, chopping the lettuce will not cause the edges to brown. If we were using a more delicate leaf, say radicchio, then we would need to tear it, but Romaine lettuce isn't that delicate.

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