Homemade (no egg) Caesar Salad Dressing

Saturday, October 26, 2013

SweetGreen Caesar Salad with Buckwheat Bread
 SweetGreen Caesar Salad with Buckwheat Bread

I love Caesar salad. If I am at a restaurant and it's on the menu, then there is a good change that I will be eating Caesar salad with my meal. My refrigerator is always stocked with romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, and anchovies (which perfectly accompanies any Caesar salad worth its weight) to make the delicious salad on the fly. And if I don't know what to eat for lunch or dinner, I can add an egg, chicken, or shrimp and get the perfect meal that satisfies, but still feels like a treat.

But, the one thing that has always eluded me with Caesar salad is Caesar salad dressing. For some odd reason, I just could never get it right. I would try to elevate store bought dressing with lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, attempted a homemade dressing with raw egg and oil, and even tried to make a purely oil based dressing. But I can never nail down the flavor or the consistency. I figured that if I wanted a delicious Caesar salad with delicious dressing, I was just going to have to go out and find it…that is until I went to SweetGreen.

Generally, I go out for lunch once a week. On that day, I never really finalize my decision until I am at the register - sometimes I find myself in Cosi, other days it's Panera, and I don't normally deviate from the two, but this week, I decided to try SweetGreen hoping it would be my Chop't replacement (I use to work by a Chop't, which I loved, but ended up getting a new job with no Chop't near by).

I was a little wary of the little restaurant as I had checked their menu before and a plain Caesar could not be found. I had (and still have) no intention of eating the Kale Caesar Salad as I am not really fond of kale, even when crisped in an oven. So I decided to just make a custom salad along the lines of a Caesar salad - romaine lettuce, shrimp, and Parmesan cheese with the quintessential Caesar dressing. Upon reaching the cash register and taking my salad, I was actually pretty disappointed. For a SweetGreen salad, I got about a 1/3 less salad and paid $2 more compared to a Chop't salad, and the salad looked exactly the same.

I walked back to work hoping this salad would be worth it, got some utensils, and sat down to enjoy my meal. I was actually surprised. It tasted a bit better than a Chop't salad, and the buckwheat bread (my carb cheat for the week) was very soft and buttery. My meal was satisfying without me feeling stuffed. After eating, I went online to find their nutrition guide to log my calories in MyFitness Pal and discovered that they list the ingredients for their dressings. Caesar salad dressing was yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, anchovies, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. If their salad dressing was that delicious and that simple, I got the bright idea to make some when I got home.

Fast forward past my mini trip to Whole Foods to grab some Parmesan cheese and lemon juice, and I was mixing everything in a food processor hoping my excitement wasn't for naught. I take a spoon, dip it in the dressing, and to my surprise it tasted exactly like what I had earlier that day. I finally was able to make the perfect Caesar salad dressing to accompany the perfect Caesar salad (and as such, had Caesar salad for the next three days).

Caesar Salad with Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing
Homemade Caesar Salad with chopped chicken
Ingredients:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 of a oz can of anchovies
3 garlic cloves (I like a lot of garlic, so adjust according to your taste)
Small handful of Parmesan cheese (I actually put the Parmesan cheese directly on the salad, but you may like it mixed in the dressing)
Salt and pepper for taste

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and well blended

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