Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Just to make one thing clear, Caesar salad has nothing to do with Julius Caesar, but everything to do with feeding an insatiable hunger.
In North America, Caesar salad is commonly served with Italian food, and throughout the world it’s considered American food. However, Caesar salad originated in Mexico, invented by the Italian-American immigrant, Caesar Cardini. So what is it… Italian, American, or Mexican food? You choose. Personally, I prefer Caesar salad with lasagna, or a big juicy steak, or even all by itself topped with grilled chicken.
When one thinks of comfort food, pasta, burgers, and cheesecake spring to mind. Very seldom does one think of salad as comfort food. Lettuce, vegetables, fruit and a drizzle of vinaigrette is hardly comforting. But imagine taking that lettuce, coating it in a smooth garlic and parmesan dressing, cover it in bacon, toss some toasted seasoned croutons on top for crispy texture and finish with grated parmesan. So deceptive you can barely call it a salad.
By all definitions of comfort food, this one fits snugly within those parameters. This salad should be so guilt-inducing, you’d be better off adding extra lettuce to a Big Mac and calling that a salad. Well, maybe not that bad.
Okay. This is an easy one, unless of course you’re on a diet, then you may have some difficulties controlling yourself. There are no hard and fast rules with Caesar salad, but there is, however, very good and very bad versions of the salad. Take what you’d like from my own version and create one to call your own.
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad:
- 1 head of Romaine Lettuce
- 1/2 cup Caesar dressing
- 2 chicken breast filets, boneless, skinless
- 200g crispy Bacon
- Parmesan cheese, freshly grated for garnish
- 1 Lemon, sliced into wedges
- 1/4 cup of Pumpkin seeds and Sunflower seeds (optional)
- 1 cup oil
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp fresh black pepper
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 cup dry grated Parmesan cheese
In a food processor or blender, add egg yolk, water, lemon juice, fish sauce, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and parsley. Blend well. Drizzle oil, in a thin steady stream, as the contents blend. When mixture is emulsified, add the grated Parmesan cheese.
Pour contents into a container and chill in the fridge until needed.
Note* Originally, Caesar dressing was just olive oil, eggs, Worcestershire sauce and Parmesan cheese. Eventually, anchovies were added and accepted by many, though rejected by others. Worcestershire sauce was used as the source of anchovies. I use fish sauce (which is fermented anchovies) to intensify the flavor. Feel free to put anchovies in if you’d like, or omit both fish sources, though you must compensate for the missing salt.
- 1 loaf of white or whole wheat bread
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Paprika
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/2 tsp Dry Oregano
- 1/2 tsp Dry basil
- 1/2 tsp Black pepper
Preheat oven to 190C.
First cut off crust of bread. Then slice the bread in 3cm thick slices. Now cut each slice into 3cm cubes.
Place cubes of bread on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil all over the cubes. Squish the cubes together with your hands, ensuring all the bread is well oiled, inside and out.
Sprinkle the seasonings evenly over the oiled bread, and again, squish the cubes together.
Put the pan of bread cubes into the preheated oven. Turn heat down to 120C and bake for 45 minutes until the croutons are crunchy all the way through. Cool to room temperature until needed.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 cups cold water
- ½ cup salt
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- Olive oil, to brush on chicken
- Kosher or sea salt, to season
- Cracked black pepper, to season
Pour water into a large bowl and dissolve ½ cup salt, 1/4 cup sugar. Place chicken into the brine mixture. Seal tightly and store in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Take chicken out of the fridge and drain the brine. Give the chicken a quick rinse under cold water, then put dry. Generously coat the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Using a preheated BBQ or a grill pan, place chicken, smooth side down and cook over med-high heat for about 8-10 minutes. Flip the chicken over and continue cooking for another 8 minutes. Depending on the size of the chicken breasts, cooking times may vary.
Remove from heat and let rest.
Personally, I like cold chicken on my Caesar salad, but that’s up to you. I cook the chicken the day before and keep it in the refrigerator until I make up the salad. If you prefer cold chicken as well, then don’t slice it until you’re ready to serve the salad.
Garnish with crumbled bacon, freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a lemon wedge. Also, toasted pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds are an excellent addition if you’re going to eat the salad as a meal.