There is one salad that I think of anytime I want to eat just a salad for a meal: A Caesar salad.
Not only are the ingredients pretty simple, but because a Caesar salad normally has some cheese and croutons on it and is easily topped with some sort of protein, it’s very easy to make a meal out of it.
I was glad you guys voted for the salad last week because I’ve had this in my mind for a long time.
As you might guess, scallops are not native to Colorado. The rare river scallop went extinct many years ago I believe.
I have a local gourmet shop though that very occasionally gets good scallops flown in from the East coast. I will not be revealing how much I paid for these, but needless to say that they are not an everyday purchase!
The scallops are kind of just a bonus though. The real trick with a good Caesar salad is the dressing!
1) Add egg to a large pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove egg, run it under cold water. Use a knife to crack the top off the egg and use a spoon to scoop the coddled egg into a mini food processor.
2) Add other dressing ingredients. Roughly chop garlic and parmesan.
3) Blend dressing until smooth. If it's really thick, add a bit more olive oil. Store for later. This dressing will keep fine for a week in the fridge.
1) Cube bread into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and minced garlic.
2) Lay cubes out on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes, turning a few times throughout cooking. They are done when they are very crispy and browned.
1) Dry off scallops with a few paper towels. Drizzle them with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
2) Grill scallops over HIGH heat for about 3-4 minutes per side depending on the thickness of your scallops.
To finish the Salad:
1) Chop romaine, tomatoes, and shred some Parmesan in a large bowl.
2) Toss veggies and cheese with a few tablespoons of dressing. Go light on the dressing - people can always add more.
3) Scoop salad onto serving plates. Top each salad with croutons and a few scallops.
I’m pretty sure that Caesar dressing started off as a prank.
Who in their right mind would think to put all of these things together and call it a salad dressing?!
The recipe has some strange ingredients for sure (anchovies, coddled eggs, etc.) but trust me that it’s really delicious.
It’s one of my favorite homemade dressing by far and tastes way different from the stuff in the store.
Basically, you just blend everything together, but the one trick is to coddle the egg before you add it to the dressing.
There’s no need to stress about this. I’ve had my fair share of egg-cooking woes, but this is easy. Just bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the egg and cook for exactly five minutes.
Take the egg out and run it under cold water. Then use a knife to crack into it. Scoop out all the egg and add it to your dressing!
I like to use a mini food processor to make the dressing. Basically, just dice up the garlic and add it to the processor with all the other ingredients.
Then blend it up until it’s smooth!
You won’t need any salt in the dressing because the anchovies and Parmesan are very salty.
To those people who don’t like anchovies, I would still bet you like this dressing. You can’t really pick out a fishy flavor at all. It’s just savory and delicious.
The one thing to remember about this dressing, which you will notice as soon as you taste it, is that it’s WAY more flavorful and strong than a bottled Caesar dressing.
You want to go very light on this stuff to start and then people can add more if they want to.
To me, a Caesar salad isn’t complete without some really good croutons.
I just cubed up a few cups of stale bread and tossed the cubes with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and minced garlic. The staler the bread the better honestly.
Then just add these to a baking sheet and cook for about 15 minutes at 325 degrees. They should be a nice golden brown color and will crisp up even more as they cool.
These were some really beautiful and big scallops that I was able to get. This is a rare treat for us here in our land-locked state!
Anytime I’m cooking scallops, I always think of the doctor’s creed: First, do no damage.
I just patted mine dry with a paper towel and then drizzled on some olive oil and a pinch of salt. Done deal.
I got my grill as hot as it will get and then grilled these bad boys for about 3-4 minutes per side. These were really big scallops though. If you are working with smaller ones, 2-3 minutes will probably do the trick.
You don’t want to overcook them whatever you do.
They are done when they firm up a bit around the edges. It’s okay if they are still a tiny bit pink on the inside.
Finishing the Salad
I’ll be honest, this is a stretch for a thirty minute meal, but you can do it if you plan.
Make the croutons first and while those bake mix the dressing and salad base. For my salad base, I just chopped up some Romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, and shredded some Parm.
You don’t want to dress this in advance, but as soon as your scallops come off the grill you can toss a few tablespoons of dressing with the salad and stir it together.
I’ll say it again: go light on the dressing.
Then just pile everything on a plate and you are in for a very good meal.
Serve some extra dressing on the side just in case people want it.
The scallops are a treat, but the dressing is honestly my favorite part of this meal. You could top the exact same salad with any kind of protein and make a meal out of it: grilled chicken, steak, mushrooms, tofu… you name it.
The salad holds up really well to almost any meat.
If you try nothing else from this post, give the homemade dressing a shot sometime!