May 12th, 2010

{recipe} Salad for Dinner Week: Eggless Caesar with Smoked Black Pepper Chicken

I love classic caesar salad. Garlic. Anchovies. Parmesan. Yum, yum and yum. And, of course, raw egg. That’s what makes the dressing so good! Needless to say, I’ve always been suspicious of the eggless kind. Why in the world would you leave out the best part?! Oh, right… kids. The damn kids.

My oldest is 3 1/2, which is still pretty young. In another world—one where I live on a farm and gather fresh eggs every morning—I might have a different perspective on feeding him fresh, raw eggs. But, in this world, I’m not taking any chances. And so I’ve skipped making caesar salad at home in, you guessed it, 3 1/2 years. But, after all this time, my craving got the best of me. I wanted—no, I needed—caesar salad and I couldn’t wait until date night (ie, restaurant night). I’d have to make it at home. I’d have to make it without eggs.

To make up for the lack of raw egg, I decided to use smoked black pepper to make a super flavorful, slightly spicy chicken to top the salad. Smoked black pepper is an absolute pantry must have. You use it as you would regular black pepper, but it has a deliciously pungent, smoky flavor that makes everything better. I have a big canister like this one and use it constantly.

For this recipe, on all but the Hungry Boy’s portion (which I seasoned more conservatively), I gave the chicken a coating of pepper before sauteing it in olive oil. I plan on giving an even thicker coating next time!

Though not a one-for-one substitute for the richness added by raw egg, the smoked black pepper chicken boosted the flavor of this salad, making it particularly satisfying. Like we were eating more than your restaurant-standard Caesar with Grilled Chicken.

I also made super chunky croutons that would make the salad feel hearty. Job well done. (If I do say so myself!)

So, as it turns out, eggless caesar isn’t so bad. And a perfect salad-for-dinner family meal. The Hungry Boy ate his (slightly less spicy) chicken, croutons and roasted asparagus. We ate salad with the chicken and croutons mixed in and asparagus on the side. Everyone was happy. Even me and my raw egg loving self.

Eggless Caesar Salad with Smoked Black Pepper Chicken
salad adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 4-6
(can be served to kids 8+ mos)*

FOR THE CROUTONS**
1 loaf (8 to 10 ounces) Italian or French bread, cut into 3/4″ pieces
1/3 c olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional

FOR THE CHICKEN
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb chicken cutlets, you can substitute boneless skinless chicken breast
salt
smoked black pepper, you can substitute regular black pepper

FOR THE SALAD
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/3 c olive oil
2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped into 1 1/2″ strips/pieces
1 c grated Parmesan cheese

1. Make the croutons: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss bread with olive oil, salt and cayenne until coated. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

2. Make the chicken: Heat olive oil in a skillet. In the meantime, season chicken cutlets with salt and as much smoked black pepper as you like. The thicker the coating, the more flavor. Saute, flipping half way through cooking time, until cooked through and golden brown on the edges, about 5-7 minutes (longer if using chicken breasts).

3. Make the salad: Place garlic, anchovy paste and salt in a large wooden salad bowl. Using two dinner forks, mash into a uniform paste.

4. Using one fork, whisk in pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and mayonnaise.

5. Using the fork, whisk in the olive oil.

6. Add croutons, romaine and cheese to the bowl—toss well. Top with chicken and, if you wish, extra grated cheese. Serve immediately.

*Note: Children as young as 8 months can eat the chicken in this recipe, just skip the salt and limit the black pepper seasoning on their portions. Puree with some parmesan or, if they are adept finger food eaters, cut up into age appropriate bite sizes, which you can also sprinkle with parmesan. Served with a side veggie, this makes a great complete dinner for little ones.

**Note: Skip the croutons to make this a gluten-free meal.

7 Responses

  1. Rosie says:

    I love me a good Caesar salad too and hate it when a restaurant leaves out the anchovies as those are the best part. Your eggless version looks and sounds delicious. Now, if I could just get my daughter to eat a leafy green of ANY kind….

  2. DailyChef says:

    Your salad looks fantastic! I especially love the black pepper chicken for a bit of kick.

  3. One Hungry Mama says:

    rosie: I know what you mean about the leafy greens. We’re okay when they are cooked, but no way when raw. That’s the point of these salads: there’s enough other stuff that you don’t need to worry about them eating leafy greens. They’ll come around to it eventually. In the meantime, you get to eat salad for dinner without having to make a separate meal.

    DailyChef: thanks!

  4. Katie says:

    I took a cooking class in which we made grilled caesar salad. The chef coddled the egg, by putting it in cold water and as soon as it boils removing it quickly, rinsing it in cold water and then cracking it open and putting the yolk into the dressing. This way, the egg was cooked, but still runny, but not about to make anyone sick, such as pregnant women.

  5. One Hungry Mama says:

    I love this idea! Thank you!

  6. Amy says:

    Hi for your “eggless” salad its not as eggless as you would like to think

    mayo — which is made with raw egg and other ingredients just substituted for your eggs. hate to break that to you. =( unless you have a vegan version which i would believe wouldn’t have any eggs in it since ya vegan (dont eat any animals or things (like eggs) that come from an animal) I dont know much about you but since you like raw eggs im assuming its just regular mayo.

  7. One Hungry Mama says:

    Hi Amy,
    Thanks for your comment. Your’e absolutely right that I wasn’t clear enough. The eggless refers to the traditional raw egg used in classic caesar dressing. The point of this dressing was to have something safe to share with little ones and, if you use store-bought mayo, it is, in fact, safe to share with kids. Store bought/shelf-stable mayo is not made with raw egg. If you use homemade mayo, though, it will contain raw egg and should not be shard with children. When I get a chance, I’ll fix this right up to make it more clear!

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