caesar dressing … it’s not just for Romaine

The not-so-littles in our house LOVE Caesar Salad.

Love.

It.

And not just because of the crunchy herby croutons that are super satisfying coated in garlicky, citrus-y, creamy Caesar Dressing. (Although I would be ignoring the facts if I didn’t admit it was the crispy bits that got our oldest, most bread-loving and significantly salad averse to try it.)

I wish I could tell you that she made the discovery of her love of this salad at home … eating lettuce grown in our garden … with croutons that I loving made with staling homemade bread …

No.

It was at our local favorite pizza joint Gil’s Goods, in Livingston, MT. Firstly, I am a huge fan of Gil’s, who, as far as I’m concerned, offers the best S.O.L.E. food around… (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical). If we’re going out to eat pizza (or pretty much anything on their homey menu), Gil’s is definitely my place of choice.

And secondly, I’m not suggesting this would work for you, but in my experience the littles are sometimes more willing to try new flavors at a restaurant than if I just plop it on their plates and tell them to dig in. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been making this simple and delicious Caesar Dressing for nearly 20 years … Until they tried it at Gil’s, there was no getting them to even take a bite at home. (I don’t fight them over food … they either eat what’s on their plates or they don’t eat … sometimes they don’t eat.)

Now, though, we’re past that hurdle and we’re all enjoying more salads at home … which is lucky since the lettuce is starting to grow and it’s my favorite food of Spring and Summer.

And I’m here to tell you that this Caesar Dressing is NOT just for Romaine lettuce.

Seriously.

We’ve had it on mixed greens and power greens and spinach and kale …

Actually, my favorite way to have a Caesar these days IS with kale.

Remember two (maybe it was three) years ago when Kale was the new super food?

There was all sorts of excitement about how antioxidant and awesome it is? How it’s a great source of calcium and manganese and phosphorus? It’s high in iron, has Omega fatty acids and a healthy dose of fiber? Sounds too good to be true, right? But then there were all those concerns about how uncooked kale is challenging to digest and not good for folks with Thyroid issues?

Yeah … well … I like kale. And I don’t want to cut it out of our diet because the good things are just too good to ignore!

And happily(!), there’s science that shows doing a fine chop on kale and either cooking or adding citrus like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar breaks down the bad and makes all the good available to us!**

Whew!

Which makes me even more happy to share this SUPER SIMPLE  (only 5 ingredients!) family favorite recipe with you all.

CAESAR SALAD DRESSING

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 large Cloves Garlic (grated)
  • 1/2 cup Avocado Oil (or Extra Virgin Olive Oil is nice, too)
  • 2 TBLS Mayonnaise
  • Juice from one lemon (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 cups loosely packed Ribbon Chopped Kale or Romaine Lettuce (or any other lettuce you like)
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan & Asiago Cheese
  • 1/2 cup herbed pita chips

DIRECTIONS:

For the dressing: Combine the garlic, olive oil, mayo, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce in a jar and shake until well-combined.

For a KALE Caesar:  If you’re using baby kale, just make sure it’s cleaned and dried before chopping. If you’re using “adult” kale, de-vein after cleaning and chop into fine ribbons.

If you’re using adult kale, cut into ribbons and then coat with about 1/4 cup of the dressing and massage it well. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes (up to 2 hours in the fridge). Just before serving, toss with the rest of the dressing (or dressing to taste), cheese and croutons.

Extra dressing lasts in the fridge for about a week.

(PS – the Kale version is a GREAT salad to bring to a pot-luck because the longer it won’t get soggy and limp while sitting on the food line.)

For ROMAINE or any other lettuce, just toss and go …

Eat it up, YUM!

-J.

PS – here’s another (oft-requested) dressing I make at home because I haven’t bought salad dressing in more than 2 decades!

Warm Red Cabbage Salad with Mason Jar Ranch Dressing

 

 

even real foodies need a cleanse once in a while (aka a delicious cabbage & cashew salad)

cabbage&cashew salad

Jeanne here.

Even though I’m 14 years into this ‘real food’ thing, I still feel like I need to “clean it up” a few times a year.

I cut out dairy. Meat, fish and poultry. Wheat. Alcohol. And tomatoes (they are really acidic, and at this time of year, they are just not locally available in Montana anyway).

What else is there, you ask???

I eat a lot of sautéed or roasted veggies. Baked sweet potatoes. A lot of big salads with kale and spinach and chard and butter lettuce and cabbage and avocados and blanched green beans. Soup. Quinoa. Brown rice. Soaked oats and millet. Apples. Berries. Bananas.

Sounds boring, right?

I know.

But honestly, I’m surprised every time about how much I love the food during a cleanse.  It takes me about two days of eating bland clean food to remember that just because I’m on a cleanse doesn’t mean I can’t have food I love. I remember that I’ve got turmeric in the cupboard. And cardamom. And cloves. Ginger. Black pepper. Toasted sesame oil. Rice wine vinegar.

And it only lasts about 10 days, unless I’m feeling really ambitious and strive for 40!

So for my next few posts, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite “cleanse” recipes.

Like this cabbage, celery and cashew salad with an Asian inspired toasted sesame dressing.

photo 2

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 head of cabbage (shredded or chopped to bite-size bits)
  • 3 stalks of celery (thinly sliced on the bias)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 3 scallions (chopped)

for the dressing

  • 2 Tbls toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tbls rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbls liquid aminos (or soy sauce or coconut aminos)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tsp chili-garlic sauce
  • 2 Tbls sesame seeds

Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Add all the dressing ingredients to a small mason jar.  Shake to combine.

photo 3

Pour over the salad and toss to coat.  Serve immediately, or let it stand in the dressing for up to an hour.

Do you know the happy dance? Because you might want to learn it so you can celebrate this simple and simply delicious salad.

PS – I use this dressing all the time. Not just on cabbage. It’s wonderful on a kale salad. Or with a delicate lettuce like watercress. Or on butter lettuce. It’s just plain tasty.

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mason jar ranch dressing

I haven’t bought salad dressing in more than 20 years.

Seriously.

If I knew how to reach her, I would absolutely thank Arlene for that.  My college boyfriend’s mom was an amazing cook.  And over the four years that Eric and I dated, she gave me two recipes.

Both of them were for salad dressing (honey-mustard-vinaigrette and caesar dressing).

It was the beginning of my real food journey.  And I am thankful.

Mostly, I’m thankful because she made me realize how easy it is to make salad dressing.  Whenever I need it.  With things I probably already have in my cupboard.

No more random bottles of “natural flavored” sauce bottles clogging up the fridge door.  No more having the check expiration dates, or worry over the preservatives and “natural flavorings” or hydrogenated oils in those bottles.

And when I figured out how to make ranch dressing with fresh whole ingredients? … well … I’ll just say this:  I became a lot more popular at parties (this dressing is that good.  I’m not kidding).

Plus, it’s made in the same jar I store it in, so there are fewer dishes to do.  (If I don’t have to do extra dishes, I am way more fun to live with.)

ranch dressing ingredients

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (we use homemade grapeseed oil mayo)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¾ cup flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • ½ cup scallions (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • pepper (to taste)

ranch dressing DIRECTIONS:

Layer the ingredients into your mason jar (the order doesn’t matter).  Using the whisk attachment on an immersion blender, whisk gently until ingredients are well-combined.

Makes approximately one quart.

It’s a great dip for veggies, excellent on salads, on sandwiches, with chips, as an alternative to blue cheese for spicy buffalo chicken wings, or with those buffalo cauliflower bits you’ve surely seen on Pinterest … so good!).

And no mystery ingredients.  Just good, wholesome awesomeness. (Not naming names, but I have a friend who was caught eating it with a spoon at the last party I brought it to …)

xo,

J.

PS – want an excuse to make this salad dressing tonight?

You’re welcome!

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