Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pesto Caesar Salad

We tried a new salad last night that I found in this month's Cooking Light, and Corey seemed to really enjoy it, so I thought I would share it with you. It's a refreshing change from a regular Caesar and has significantly fewer calories and fat due to the judicious use of dairy and fats.

This recipe calls for making your own croutons, which I tried, and I decided that it is not worth the extra effort to make your own. The recipe calls for 10 minutes in the oven, and I left my croutons in the oven for just SIX minutes and mine almost burned. I would use store-bought croutons both to save time and boost flavor.

This recipe serves six, so I would recommend halving the Romaine, croutons, and cheese for the salad, using only half the dressing for the first night's dinner, and using the remaining salad ingredients for a second salad the next night.

Recipe Notes

As mentioned above, I would skip the step of making your own croutons and use store-bought. I also made a couple of substitutions to the recipe based on what I had on-hand. I used reduced-fat mayo with olive oil (a new Kraft product) instead of canola mayonnaise. I also used shredded parmesan cheese instead of shaved, and it worked just fine. For some reason, I prefer to slice my romaine on a cutting board, with a knife, when I am making a Caesar. It saves a ton of time and seems to work well with the presentation of the salad.

Nutritional Information (Serves 6)

202 calories - 14.3 g fat - 6.2 g protein - 2.9 g fiber


  • 3 oz. French baguette, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1-1/2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, divided (I used shredded)
  • 1/4 c. organic canola mayonnaise (I used Kraft reduced-fat mayonnaise with olive oil)
  • 3 tbsp. refrigerated basil pesto
  • 4 tsp. water
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. anchovy paste
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce (I used Cholula)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (I used 1 tbsp. bottled minced garlic)
  • 12 cups torn romaine lettuce


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make croutons: place bread cubes in large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes (mine were VERY crispy in 6 minutes). If you use preprepared croutons, you can skip this step.

2. Combine 2 tbsp. grated cheese, mayonnaise, pesto, water, lemon juice, anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, hot pepper sauce, and garlic in a small container with a tight lid. Shake until very well combined.

3. Combine lettuce, croutons, and remaining cheese in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing and toss liberally to coat.

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