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Chicken Caesar Salad Cesar Salad
by Jes Mostek
serves: 4
  Did you know that Caesar salad was not named after Julius Caesar? "Caesar" is the most commonly known spelling for this fabulous salad dressing, but "Cesar" is actually the original spelling. The salad was named for its creator, Cesar Cardini, a restaurant owner who lived and reigned in Tijuana, Mexico during the time of the Prohibition on alcohol in the U.S.

Today, either spelling is acceptable. In fact, if you buzz through the salad dressing aisle of the grocery store, you may notice that even the "Cardini" line of salad dressings uses the spelling with an "a:" Caesar Salad Dressing.

But of course, if you want the best dressing, then you'll want to make it from scratch. But don't worry, it'll only take you about 10 minutes to make this salad. What a great way to impress your family, or even your dinner guests! Just a note: if you are preparing this for guests, I recommend preparing the dressing and croutons in advance (although you may want to toast the croutons just before serving).
Ingredients:
  4 slices   bread (or buns)
  2 T.   olive oil
  2 T.   finely grated Parmesan cheese
    salt & pepper to taste
  1 lg.   lemon
  1/2 c.   olive oil
  1/2 c.   coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
  1 (2 oz.) can   anchovies
  2 T.   mayonnaise
  1   heart of romaine, chopped
  2   Chicken Breasts (grilled and sliced thinly) *Optional
Directions:
  To make the croutons:

Cut the bread (this is a great way to use up extra hamburger buns) into 1" cubes.

Place the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl or plastic zipper bag and spray or drizzle with olive oil (I love the Pam Crisco pure olive oil in a spray can for this-- very convenient). Sprinkle the cheese, salt & pepper and any other spices or seasons you'd like to include (garlic) over the bread and stir in the mixing bowl or shake in the bag.

Transfer the unbaked croutons to a baking pan and cook in a hot oven (425F) for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure all croutons are getting browned. You can also make these in your toaster oven-- just watch carefully to make sure they don't burn in there.

The croutons are best served fresh and still warm, but they will keep for about a week in the cupboard (longer in the fridge).

To make the dressing:
Using a fresh lemon will make all the difference in this recipe.

Before juicing the lemon, roll the lemon on the counter-top or between your hands, using firm pressure. This will break up some of the lemon, making it easier to juice and increasing the amount of juice you get from the lemon. Juice the lemon. While you don't want any of the seeds or any of the rind, getting some of the pulp can only make the salad better.

In a blender, combine the fresh-squeezed lemon juice with the olive oil, the parmesan cheese, the entire contents of the can of anchovies (although you can reserve a couple out for each person if you'd like to serve them as a garnish, or you can coursely chop up a few to make a chunkier dressing), and the optional mayonnaise. Blend until the dressing has a smooth consistensy (this'll only take a few seconds). The authentic recipe uses no mayo, but I like the addition as it simply calms down all of these potent flavors.

This dressing will keep in your fridge for 1-2 weeks.

OPTIONAL: Up the protein on this delicious salad by adding grilled chicken, sliced thinly and placed on top.

To assemble the salad, toss the chopped romaine with the dressing and the croutons. Serve promptly.

Please note: 1 heart of romaine yeilds about 5-6 c. lettuce (loosely packed).