Caesar Salad Dressing Two Ways (Paleo, AIP, Whole30)
Do you remember the first time you had Caesar salad? I do because CROUTONS, which as a kid I could eat by the pound. Fry me some bread and I was one happy child, so much so that I was willing to look past the cheese, eggs, and creamy dressing, all of which I loathed.
(It’s a miracle that I not only learned to like food but to LOVE it and work with it. 😂 Or is it? I have a theory that picky children are super tasters and they actually go on to have great palates. Have you noticed the same? If you’re a parent with a picky child, take heart and hang in there!)
Over time, I grew to love the fishy-garlicky dressing, shower of Parm, loads of cracked black pepper, and crisp romaine. When made right, Caesar salad is basically a giant umami-bomb – plus my mom added bacon to it, for the love of god – so what’s not to adore?
“When made right” is the key phrase, by the way. As you well know, plenty of restaurants serve pretty terrible Caesar salads, basically flaccid romaine topped with goopy dressing, stale croutons, and sometimes even dry chicken…such sadness.
Let’s set those bad memories aside and get ready to make our own total wow of a Caesar at home.
I’m offering two dressing recipes here, one for the AIPers among you (autoimmune protocol followers) and one for those of you who can eat eggs. I do this, by the way, throughout Project Vibrancy Meals meal plans. There are instructions for those in the first elimination stages of AIP, but also instructions for those who can eat (or have reintroduced) ingredients like eggs, nuts/seeds, and dairy. If you’re cooking around food allergies in your household, or following an elimination diet yourself, all of your bases are covered.
If you’ve been meaning to jump into Project Vibrancy Meals, now’s your chance – I’m having a Spring Flash Sale starting right now! I thought you’d appreciate being able to transition into fresh, healthy meals post holiday. It’s not terribly warm in Minnesota right now, but summer IS on the way and we’re all ready for lighter, faster meals and a system that makes them actually happen!
So, back to Caesar dressings: the AIP version has an avocado base. It’s one of my favorite salad dressings ever so even if you don’t follow AIP, you should totally make it.
The second version is a super fast cheat, based on store-bought mayo. I’ve been making it this way for years and am a bit surprised, given 13 years (!) of blogging here, that I’ve never shared it before. Kind of gives me hope that I haven’t entirely emptied my brain onto these “pages.” Apparently there’s more to come!
For the Caesar salad itself, you can play it 100 ways. Here are some suggestions:
- Classic with torn romaine, plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and fried GF croutons
- AIP-style with roasted bacon and brussels sprouts as the “croutons”
- Either of the above with added grilled (or crispy) chicken or shrimp
- Salad Nicoise style with tuna or grilled salmon, green beans, potatoes, and medium-cooked eggs
- Beefy steak salad with tomatoes, blue cheese, and crispy potato “croutons”
I recorded this Facebook Live video today talking through entertaining for Memorial Day. I gave several recipe ideas and mentioned these dressings specifically (for the steak salad idea above that would be killah for a small gathering). See what you think! (Catch it here on YouTube if you don’t have Facebook.)
Avocado Caesar Dressing (Egg Free)
Makes 3/4 cup
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 anchovies, mashed (or 2 teaspoons fish sauce)
1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (more to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (skip for AIP)
Add lemon juice, anchovies, avocado, and garlic to the bowl of a blender or food processor. Puree and with the blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and add more salt (if needed) and several grinds of pepper (skip pepper for AIP) and blend again. Transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate.
Quick Caesar Salad Dressing
Makes 1/2 cup
Make dressing up to 1 day ahead and at least 15 minutes ahead, so the garlic clove can steep.
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce (or 4 mashed anchovies)
Sea salt to taste (several pinches, taste as you go)
1 fat clove garlic, smashed well
Whisk all ingredients except garlic together in a small bowl. Add garlic clove (it’s OK if it breaks into a couple of pieces) and let steep in the bowl for at least 15 minutes (can be made a day ahead; cover and refrigerate).
Whisk dressing again before using.
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