Hey, y’all. It’s summer and that means lots of cool crunchy salads. This salad is one I could eat everyday for the rest of my life. I love salads, cold or hot, fruit or vegetable, it’s all good. Growing up, we had a tossed salad every night with dinner. Our nightly salad consisted of iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges and 7-Seas Italian dressing. We loved it! I think maybe the only salads I don’t care for are macaroni salad, (too mayonnaise-y), and jello salads with crunchy things like chopped celery or pecans. Aside from those, plate ’em up and set them in front of me. We were raised with the concept that red meat is special, a once a week treat. Because we had so many plant based dishes from childhood into adulthood, my sisters, brother and I enjoy excellent health. We didn’t overeat as there was little cooked food in the house. Chips, cookies, soda and cake were rare treats. My father simply didn’t allow them. Snacks consisted of oranges, apples and bananas. We weren’t too thrilled about that but we always enjoyed our dinner salads. We loved salads because they were refreshing and crisp, factors most welcome at the end of our incredibly hot Florida days but mainly we loved them because of the dressing. You see, bottled commercial Italian salad dressing contains onion, garlic, oregano and basil and that combination equaled flavor to the four of us. Our diet was highly nutritious, plain and straightforward, but woefully lacking in the seasoning territory. Our fare was bland beyond belief thus bottled dressing was one of the few sources of flavor in our lives. My siblings and I all eat and enjoy masses of salads to this day. Unlike them, though, I make my own dressing which I find infinitely better than store bought and anchovies play a huge part. I’m well aware many folk don’t care for anchovies. The mere word frightens legions of people. I beg you, hear me out! The tiny fish is a huge asset in a myriad of dishes. Anchovies add a layer of flavor and meaty umami to sauces, salad dressings, salads and even meats. When the little fish is cooked, it dissolves into nothing but flavor and not a fishy flavor either. Salty and rather funky in taste, anchovies heighten and boost your dish to another level. When added, the taste of fish is almost nonexistent. However, when omitted, whatever you’re preparing may taste a bit flat… or just so-so and that’s not acceptable to me… not after spending an hour or two cooking. You’ll see, one or two anchovy filets in a pot of tomato sauce will make your baked lasagne eye rolling good. A quick sauce of garlic, flat leaf parsley, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, anchovies and olive oil tossed with steaming hot pasta… boom! The reason Caesar salad is so yummy is not due to parmesan cheese or croutons, although both ingredients are delicious. No, it’s the anchovies in the dressing. High in protein, omega 3 fats, zinc, calcium and iron, anchovies deliver a real nutritional power punch. Clearly, I’m a huge fan of the little fish so I won’t keep waxing on and on about them but I do hope you’ll give them a chance. This side dish is rich but still clean. The dressing is the classic Caesar recipe without the requisite egg, thus keeping the dish light. I serve it room temperature or cold. I always make homemade croutons not only because it’s so easy but homemade makes a world of difference in terms of taste. They’re quick to prepare and cheap, too. Each part of salad may be prepared in advance then mixed together right before serving. This is the order I add the components to the salad bowl when the dish is ready to be assembled. Croutons, dressing and beans are placed in a large bowl. The salad is then lightly tossed, parmesan shards are scattered over the top and the salad is tossed again. It’s makes a lovely lunch or dinner when presented with blackened or grilled mahi, shrimp, tuna steak or chicken. FYI, we’re having it tonight with blackened shrimp and I, for one, can’t wait!
Caesar Green Bean Salad
- 24 ounces organic green beans, ends trimmed, Publix carries 12-ounce bags of organic green beans already trimmed
- 4 anchovy filets
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 large minced garlic
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 cups 1-inch cubes of bread, preferably multi-grain
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil and add green beans. Cook green beans for 6 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the beans from cooking. Drain and allow to dry.
- To a small bowl or small food processor add the anchovies, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Whisk to blend or process until smooth. I use a small food processor. Set aside.
- Pour remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over bread cubes, season with black pepper and toss gently to coat.
- Transfer bread to a medium size pan and toast lightly over medium-high heat, turning cubes to brown each side. Transfer to serving bowl to cool.
- When bread cubes are cool, add dressing, beans, half of the parmesan cheese and toss lightly.
- Season with salt and pepper, scatter remaining parmesan over salad, lightly toss and serve.