Since I was 15 and hung out at Earls with my friend J, who had a real job as a busgirl there, back in the day of the giant papier-mâché parrots and green and white umbrellas and Mocha Kahlúa Pie, I have been a fan of their Hot Chicken Caesar Salad. That is, until I discovered that (not really suprisingly) one contains 1120 calories and 77 grams of fat. Only 12 saturated, but still… and then there’s the 1531 mg of sodium. So. I figure for that price, I might as well get a burger and fries out of the deal.
But I still do love Caesar salad, and today it occurred to me that it would make good use of the bag of frozen shrimp that I so often call into service on days like today when I haven’t really planned anything. It would have made good use of a deli roasted chicken, too.
The chunk of leftover baguette I had frozen was chopped, tossed with canola oil and toasted in a 400 degree oven to make croutons, an essential part of any Caesar. (I would have sprinkled them with some garlic powder or salt if I had any. If I wasn’t so lazy, I would have pressed a clove of garlic into the oil that I tossed the bread chunks in.) The shrimp came cooked in a bag, and only needed thawing under running water in a colander.
For the dressing, I consulted my salad binder (I have 14 binders full of recipes I’ve been collecting over the years, plus a yellow milk crate, plus assorted surfaces throughout the house, plus my computer, plus about ten thousand cookbooks – I exaggerate only slightly) and sort of morphed a bunch of Caesar dressing recipes together. I wish I had a tube of anchovy paste – I love anchovies in my Caesars – but it’s not something I normally keep on hand. The dressing was good, if a little lemony… I know a lot of people like it like that, but I’ve never been one to squeeze that wedge of lemon over my salad. Next time I think I’ll try half lemon, half balsamic vinegar, for a creamy but balsamic-y Caesar dressing. A roasted head of garlic would have been fantastic, too.
In fact, next time I think I’ll try grilling whole hearts of Romaine like they used to do at that restaurant over on 4th Street, and grill the shrimp, and maybe even grill oil-brushed and garlic-rubbed bread to tear into croutons, too.
1/4 cup lemon juice (or half lemon juice, half balsamic vinegar)
1/4 cup low fat mayo
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, finely crushed
2 tsp. grainy (or not) Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
lots of freshly ground black pepper
Whisk it all together in a bowl or shake it up in a jar.