Before you throw up your arms in horror and say this is not a Caesar Salad, let me say, this is MY version. And I like it because it is lighter.
But you can drape it with anchovies if you like (use anchovies in oil and mop them with paper towels first), leave off the nuts and make a trad dressing. Well then, if this is the case, you may as well just make the normal Caesar salad … but if you do want to try something different, this salad is delicious. You can use the dressing for heaps of other things.
1 cup acidophilus yoghurt 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 Tbsp lemon juice ½ tsp salt Grind of pepper 1 large clove garlic, peeled ½ tsp Dijon mustard 2-3 Tbsp pine nuts (depending on how ‘nutty’ you are) 1 good-sized cos (romaine) lettuce ½ telegraph cucumber 4 medium-sized free-range eggs, at room temperature Shaved parmesan for the top Good amount of basil leaves
Caesar Salad my way. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a bit particular when it comes to diary or milk-based products. If things are too creamy it gives me the heebie jeebies. Why? I’m not so sure because parmesan cheese still remains my favourite food, and it’s closely followed by acidophilus yoghurt. Which is why I decided to put both in this salad dressing to make a healthier version of the traditional Caesar Salad! It’s all a bit bizarre but it somehow makes sense in my head.
Rather than dousing these crunchy leaves with mayo or even buttermilk, I’ve made a lighter, tarter sauce by adding in a generous helping of plain Greek yog. I promise you won’t feel short-changed as the dressing is still velvety and luxurious, but fresher, and minus the richness.
1 It’s easy, so just get started. I cook the eggs first because I want them cooled down by the time I serve the salad – not cold, mind … It’s best if you have the eggs at room temperature because then the shells won’t crack when they go into the boiling water. But if you forget to take them out, just put them in a bowl, pour some hot tap water over them and leave them for a few minutes. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Lower in the eggs off a slotted spoon. Go carefully because they are delicate little creatures and if you knock them about you’ll crack the shells and then you’ll have all those goobey bits in the water. Cook for 7 minutes. 7 minutes! That’s all. If your eggs are slightly bigger, cook them for 8 minutes. Then, pour off the water and let the cold tap run over them for a few minutes, until the water is cool enough for you to stick your hand in. Then get peeling. The best way to do this is to tap the shell all over on the side of the pot so all the shell is cracked before you try pulling off hunks of shell. There’s nothing worse than splitting an egg in half while it is still in its shell! There are lots of tips on Shared Kitchen about cooking eggs and you can read more here. Eggs
2 Next make the dressing. Put yoghurt in a bowl and give it a little whip with a fork to make it smooth. Crush the clove of garlic – and I do this with a round-bladed knife (not a pointy one) and the salt. It then crushes down to a paste and you haven’t got a garlic crusher to wash with all the bits caught in it. Add garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and pepper to the yoghurt. It should taste tart and savoury.
3 You can toast the pine nuts if you have time. I do them in a slick of oil in a small pan – watch them though because once they get browning, they can quickly burn. Tip them onto paper towels and sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt. If I run out of time, then untoasted pine nuts it is!
4 What’s left to do? Just wash and dry the lettuce and peel and thinly slice the cucumber. Break up the lettuce leaves into manageable pieces you’ll be able to stuff in your mouth and put them in a bowl with the cucumber. Mix with some dressing and arrange on plates. Scatter with a few basil leaves. Halve the eggs and arrange on top with pine nuts. I season the eggs with a little salt and pepper first. Shave over some parmesan and it’s ready. Serve extra dressing separately – you can always add more if you get a taste for it (I certainly did to the salad in the picture!). Store any leftover dressing in the fridge and eat with anything you like. Cutting the rest of the cucumber into sticks and dunking into the dressing is a start!