The history of the Caesar Salad actually dates back to the Fourth of July in 1924 when an Italian immigrant named Caesar Cardini made his infamous recipe tableside during a dinner rush, where he had run low of food and ingredients. So while Cardini worked back and forth between San Diego and Tijuana (dodging prohibition restrictions) the salad is really truly Italian in flavor, even though it was made in Mexico. You can make spaghetti on the moon but it will still be Italian. 😉
But we can easily see how this frugal salad was perfect for the hot dry summer weather of the American West and Mexico. No wonder it was a sensation! And while his was made from scratch, mine uses a cheater’s method of premade mayonnaise (whether premade by hand or store-bought is your choice), but in any case, easily whipped up.
This recipe actually comes as a spin-off from my recipe for Quick and Simple Caesar Salad. The dressing keeps for a bit so I like to have that on hand and just quickly whip up some Caesar salad with chopped romaine lettuce and some toasted bread croutons or toasted chopped almonds (I find those to be lower carb) and a bit of Parmesan cheese. It makes for a really easy add-on to any dinner, especially if it’s a weeknight, or if you are in a hurry.
The dressing in this recipe is made much the same way, but it does add roasted garlic to the dressing. Making roasted garlic is really very simple. I have a recipe for it posted on the blog: Oven Roasted Garlic. Of course, I also see it all the time at olive bars in the grocery stores ready made if you want to save yourself some work. But roasted garlic also freezes well. If you use a silicone ice cube tray sprayed with non-stick spray, you can fill the cubes with roasted garlic, then pop them out after those are frozen and keep them in small freezer bags. Very economical!
And of course, if you like to keep the dressing as healthy as possible, use fat-free ingredients, but this is true with recipes in most cases. There are recipes you can wreck by doing that, but a salad is not one of them.
The chicken in this marinates for about 6 hours or overnight. An easy trick I know is that when packing boneless chicken for the freezer, you can add the dressing to it then, so that as it thaws it marinates. This can save you lots of time and energy.
Around dinner this is very quick to put together- I marinate my chicken in Ziplock bags and when dinner rolls around, I drain off the dressing and discard it (marinades for dressings are not safe to use again at this point unless they are boiled for three minutes, which will kill off any possible salmonella from the uncooked chicken). With the air squeezed out of the bag and zipped shut, it is easy work them to pound the chicken thin with a wooden mallet, and keeping the chicken inside the sealed bag ensures that juice from the raw chicken will not spatter your kitchen everywhere. From that point, sauteeing the chicken is quick work- a few minutes on each side until it is cooked through, or an instant temp thermometer reads about 160F.
Altogether very fast, delicious and healthy. I hope you enjoy!
Roasted Garlic Chicken Caesar Salad
Ingredients for salad:
- 4 boneless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing or homemade
- 12 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 3/4-1 cup prepared croutons or 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- optional ingredients: pitted nicoise olives, marinated artichoke hearts, sliced prosciutto or sopressato salami, cherry tomatoes, etc.
Ingredients for dressing:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup roasted garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Marinade boneless chicken in the Italian dressing for 6 hours or overnight (I put it in ziplock bags and squeeze out the excess air).
- Puree dressing ingredients in a food processor, or whisk together by hand until thoroughly mixed.
- Drain marinade from chicken and discard. Flatten chicken with a mallet to about 1/4-inch thickness then either grill using an outdoor grill or grill pan or George Foreman grill (even a panini machine works) or saute on both sides in a skillet with a little olive oil added until cooked through or internal temperature is 160F. I actually used an electric panini press. It’s a multi-tasker.
- Let chicken sit undisturbed while you assemble the salad.
- Place the torn romaine lettuce in a deep salad bowl and add desired amount of dressing. Using salad forks, go to the sides of the salad and lift to toss and coat the lettuce, so as not to bruise the lettuce . Make sure dressing is thoroughly blended so it doesn’t weigh the leaves down or become gloppy.
- Arrange salad on serving plates.
- Slice chicken and place on top of lettuce, and top again with croutons or nuts, salt and black pepper, and Parmesan cheese.
- You can add optional ingredients to your salad as well, such as olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, etc.
Yield: 4 entree sized salads
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