Classic caesar salad: delicious flavors and reduced fat make this recipe a winner

The Caesar salad is a classic. It was first made in 1924 by Caesar Cardini, a restaurateur in Tijuana who ran short of ingredients and put together an “experiment” that he made tableside. Cardini started this tradition because he wanted his guests to feel like they were getting something truly special.

Today the Caesar salad is one of the most popular foods in restaurants. The salad can be found with variations such as added chicken and steak, which is what I did with this recipe. I used scallops as a topper because they’re low in fat and cholesterol and easy to prepare. They also make the salad more of a main dish because of the added protein.

* CROUTONS

 

  • 3 sourdough rolls
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Cut rolls into eighths and place in a jumbo plastic bag. Add into bag olive oil, garlic powder, paprika and kosher salt. Shake bag vigorously until the bread is covered with mixture. Place bread on a cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees F until crisp (about 20-30 minutes).

* SCALLOPS

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 lb. jumbo scallops

Mix together the orange juice, lime juice and paprika and pour over scallops in a baking dish. Salt to taste. Broil for about 15-20 minutes (or until just browned).

* SALAD

  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk Juice from 2 lemons
  • 1/2 tsp. anchovy paste
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 drops hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 oz. fresh Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, washed, patted dry and torn intobite-size pieces

Whisk together the buttermilk, lemon juice, anchovy paste, dry mustard, minced garlic, pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce and Parmesan cheese. Mix together the dressing, the lettuce and croutons.

* ASSEMBLY

Divide salad onto four plates. Divide the scallops evenly (about five apiece) and place atop the salad. Add ground pepper to taste. Makes four servings. Per serving: 255 calories, 25 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 1 g fiber.

To begin, I used the traditional romaine lettuce. The romaine doesn’t conflict with the other ingredients, as it’s a very subtle-tasting green. The crunchiness of the lettuce is essential for a successful salad. This can be enhanced by soaking it in an ice bath for about one minute.

The first challenge for this salad was to reduce the fat. As is the case with most salads, the majority of fat comes from the dressing, which is typically laden with oil. I eliminated the oil, but chose to use other ingredients with small amounts of fat for flavor. The eggs were omitted from this recipe altogether. This is where the buttermilk was used as a substitute. The buttermilk offers the creaminess and body that the eggs would have provided.

The Parmesan cheese remained in this recipe but the amount was reduced. This cheese is needed for the traditional Caesar salad taste. The last place where fat was cut out was with the croutons. Pre-made fat-free croutons could also be used, but I like the flavor of freshly made. The croutons should be large pieces, not bite size. This adds a nice look to the salad. I used a small amount of olive oil here for flavor and to preserve the crunchiness.

The remaining ingredients in the dressing were used to mimic the traditional flavor of the salad. Fortunately, the calories were not significant. I added quite a bit of lemon juice. Again, this was for flavor and also moisture.

I used scallops in this recipe, but substitutes might include chicken breast, grilled turkey or even ahi tuna. The serving sizes are large, and should be enough to satisfy any appetite.

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