Caesar Salad? Um, No!
We can't just go around calling every salad a Caesar salad.
BY SUSAN ROSSER
I love recipes. I read a ton of recipes. I love cooking. In fact I love all things food. I even enjoy grocery shopping. I consider it retail therapy without the guilt. (Did you hear? Susan bought a 27 dollar piece of cheese? Apparently, no one is concerned with my monthly cheese expenditures.)
Recently, as I was scouring the internet for new dinner ideas, I stumbled upon a recipe for kale, sweet potato and crispy chickpea Caesar salad.
Wrong. That’s just a salad. Where is the romaine? Where are the croutons—arguably the best part? And don’t even get me started on the conspicuously missing anchovies.
And kale. Really? Honestly, are we not ready to send kale back to the planet from which it came? Clearly kale is not meant for human consumption. I feel confident in saying you need a fully functioning appendix to digest that stuff.
A food blogger I admire recently featured kale in one of her recipes. She mentioned that one must massage kale to make it more appetizing. What? I need to massage my kale? What’s next? Shall we start giving facials to our spinach or mani-pedis to our arugula? I mean I hate spending time simply washing lettuce. Now I’m expected to provide spa treatments to leafy greens? I digress.
What Exactly is a Caesar Salad?
A kale and sweet potato salad may in fact be a salad. But it’s not a Caesar salad. You know what a Caesar salad is? A Caesar salad is a Caesar salad. Nothing else is a Caesar salad. Kale and sweet potatoes and crispy chickpeas are so far removed from Caesar salad that it can’t even be labeled distant cousin. It’s a completely different salad and should have its own unique name. Maybe call it a kale, sweet potato salad. Who needs “Caesar” in there? It’s misleading.
Similarly, many children’s activities that take place during the summer months are labeled camp.
Here’s one: math camp.
Say it real slow people and let it sink in. “Math camp.”
Imagine a mother uttering these words, “Hey little Jimmy, mommy and daddy signed you up for math camp. You’ll love it. There will be lots of other kids there with type A parents. You’ll feel right at home.”
Camp should involve the outdoors and crafts or swimming or games — not fractions, co-signs and tangents. Math camp is school.
And how about rest stops? I’ll Give them the “stopping” part, but “rest?” In all my years of shlepping up and down the Florida turnpike, I’ve never once rested at a rest stop. I’ve snacked. I’ve bought coffee. I’ve used the bathroom. But rest? No. Never.
And one more thing about Caesar salads. You hear a lot about how when it comes to current events and politics, we need to at the very least agree on what the facts are. Well, we live in a society where we can’t even agree on what constitutes a Caesar salad. We’re doomed.
How I made my kale salad which is not a caesar salad.
- First, cut a large sweet potato into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. I pre-heated a rimmed baking sheet in a 400 degree oven so it was nice and hot. Then I drizzled some oil all over it. I also tossed the sweet potato coins in olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper. Spread the sweet potatoes on the sheet-pan in a single layer and roast for about 30 minutes, flipping them half way so they get a brown color on both sides. Remove from oven when they are cooked through and set aside.
- Drain and rinse a 15-ounce can of chick peas. On a rimmed sheet-pan, toss the chick peas with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, freshly ground black pepper, smoked paprika and a touch of cayenne if you like it spicy. Roast in a 400 degree oven until they are — you guessed it —crispy. Remove and set aside.
- Remove the rough stems from the kale and drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt. Here’s where it gets interesting. Literally massage the kale with the oil and salt. It really does make it better. If you don’t believe me, do your own taste test.
- Slice up and avocado any way you know how. The pretty the better.
- To make the dressing you will need: olive oil, fresh lemon juice, dijon mustard, tahini, Worcestershire sauce, 1 or 2 cloves of grated garlic, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, grated Parmesan cheese. I never really follow a recipe when I am making salad dressing. I basically go with a 3:1 ratio of oil to acid. So here if you are using a 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, you will need 6 tablespoons of olive oil. As for the add ins, taste as you go.Start by squeezing the lemon juice into a medium bowl. Add in a spoonful of the mustard, tahini and Worcestershire and the garlic and salt and pepper. Place the bowl on a damp kitchen towel and slowly add the olive oil while you whisk at the same time. Taste it. You might want more of any of the ingredients. Or if it’s too strong add more oil or even a touch of water won’t hurt. Obviously, the amounts will change depending on how much dressing you need. Extra can be stored in the fridge for a few days. I think everyone should make salad dressing without feeling like they need measuring cups and spoons. Once you get the knack of it, you will never buy another bottle of dressing again!
- To compose the salad, arrange the kale on a platter. Top with the sweet potatoes, chickpeas and avocado and sprinkle a good hit of grated or shaved Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with the dressing or serve on the side.
This recipe is based on Tieghan Gerard’s recipe from her blog Half Baked Harvest. Click here to see more of her recipes. I personally really admire her and all she has accomplished at such a young age. You can also follow her on Instagram.
For more recipes by Mrs. Kossenfloffer, click here.