May 12th, 2010
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
(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
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.