The perfect Caesar salad is all about simple, balanced ingredients: Romaine lettuce, croutons, and a wonderfully zippy dressing full of tangy umami flavour. Discover the unique origins of this steakhouse staple and learn how you can recreate the experience at home using zero Points® foods; you might just find yourself making Caesar salads all summer long!
A brief history of Caesar salad
Although its famous name might suggest otherwise, Caesar salad was not invented by Julius Caesar. In fact, Caesar salad was invented by a restaurateur named Caesar Cardini in Tijuana, Mexico during the Prohibition-era (Cardini also owned several restaurants in the United States but he preferred to focus on his out-of-country properties where alcohol could legally be served). Legend has it that Cardini invented Caesar salad after a Fourth of July rush left him short on ingredients, his idea to make the humble salad table-side was meant to impress his restaurant guests even if the ingredients fell short of fabulous. Cardini’s original Caesar salad dressing recipe called for coddled eggs, olive oil, and Worcestershire sauce (Cardini’s recipe did not call for anchovies as is commonly thought, he used Worcestershire sauce in their place). Since then, the original Caesar salad dressing has become open to the chef’s interpretation and it’s now very common to see recipes containing parmesan cheese, red wine vinegar, anchovies, raw egg yolk, and many other non-traditional ingredients.
Getting creative with Caesar salad (without added SmartPoints)
Traditional Caesar salad is definitely a higher SmartPoints salad but don’t let that discourage you from enjoying it as part of a meal or as an entrée. Summon up some of Cardini’s resourcefulness and begin experimenting with classic Caesar salad flavours (all you need is your imagination and a few healthy ingredients)!
- Add protein: A serving of grilled, poached or baked chicken breast, salmon, and shrimp adds plenty of filling protein without any extra SmartPoints. Try adding lemon wedges or slices directly to the protein as its being cooked (or add to the poaching liquid if using this cooking method), the bright lemony taste will complement the citrus notes in the Caesar salad dressing.
- Experiment with plain yogurt: A big part of Caesar salad’s timeless appeal is its luxurious creamy dressing. Conventional Caesar salad dressing is made with plenty of olive oil and egg yolks to get the right texture, some recipes even call for mayonnaise in place of these ingredients. Try using a smaller amount of olive oil and add a healthy dollop or two of plain nonfat yogurt in place of the egg yolks or mayonnaise.
- Looking for an equally filling but vegetarian version of Caesar salad? Use chopped, hardboiled eggs as an added source of protein instead of chicken, salmon or shrimp. For easier peeling, cook the eggs and then shock them in a bowl of ice water. Remember to use soy or tamari sauce in place of the Worcestershire sauce if you’re following a strict vegetarian diet as Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies.
- Rethink croutons: Homemade croutons made from day-old bread are absolutely delicious but can fall flat in terms of their nutritional benefits. Surprisingly, extra-firm tofu can be used in place of croutons. Cut the tofu into a small dice and then bake or pan-fry in a small amount of olive oil; the tofu will crisp up on the outside and remain pleasantly chewy on the inside (season with nutritional yeast for an extra-cheesy taste).