THE salad.

Is it possible for a salad to be served as a main dish? If you make this salad then the answer is yes. Absolutely yes. 

It was one year ago when I have found out that anchovy fillets have a leading role in the dressing of the caesar salad. At the beginning I was thinking that anchovies will steal the thunder from the rest of the ingredients but when I tried the recipe I have discovered that anchovies, mayo and parmesan can go hand in hand.

But the most important thing in this recipe it is not the dressing, it is the cooking method that makes juicy and tender boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It will only take you up to 20 minutes to cook the chicken breasts and it works every single time.

The recipe is very easy, quick and can be easily served as a main dish, especially during summer when green salads are in abundance.

When I want a caesar salad I always use the caesar salad recipe by Akis Petretzikis (a very famous Greek chef) which I am gonna share it with you. The only difference is that Akis uses iceberg lettuce, while I prefer to combine many fresh green leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, arugula) and I add some cherry tomatoes.

For making the chicken you will need:

  • 2 chicken boneless breasts
  • some olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • salt
  • 1 sprig of thyme, oregano, rosemary
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter

For the dressing:

  • 10 anchovy fillets
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • a generous amount of olive oil
  • 250 g mayonnaise
  • 50 g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • parsley, finely chopped

For making the croutons:

  • 3-4 pieces of sliced bread, cut in to small cubes
  • some olive oil
  • salt-pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • thyme
  • oregano

To serve

  • extra parmesan cheese, flakes
  • fresh green leafy vegetables
  • cherry tomatoes

Start with making the chicken breasts. First, preheat the oven to 180* C (350* F) and then place a pan over high heat and let it get very hot. In a bowl, add the chicken, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Toss to coat. Transfer chicken to hot pan and sauté until golden on all sides.

Prepare a small baking pan that is just large enough to fit the chicken, by adding all of the sprigs of herbs on the bottom. When the chicken has turned golden, add the butter and let it melt. As soon as it starts to sizzle, transfer chicken to baking pan and lay over herbs. This way all of the aromas from the herbs will get in to the chicken as it is cooking. Pour the hot butter over it and bake for 15 minutes.

IMG_0726

Now, while waiting for the chicken breasts to be done you can start making the dressing. If you are feeling nervous about the anchovies feel free not to use 10 fillets, reduce to 8 (please do not use less than 8).

Beat the garlic, olive oil and anchovies in a food processor, until the garlic has completely broken down and then transfer to a large bowl. Then add the parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, mayonnaise and pepper. Stir and refrigerate to chill.

Continue with making the croutors. Place a pan over heat and add the butter. Add the cubes of bread, garlic, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook on both sides for about 3 minutes until golden. Remove from heat and set aside until the chicken is ready.

I am sure that at the time you have finished the dressing and the croutons the chicken breasts are ready.

Chop the vegetables and the parsley and then transfer to a serving bowl. Add about 3 tablespoons of dressing and toss. Cut the chicken like a tagliata or in to pieces and add them to the salad.

Add some parmesan flakes, parsley and the croutons. Your super salad is ready. Enjoy!IMG_0748)lo

Did you know that caesar salad was invented at Mexico? Legend has it that Italian-American restaurateur Caesar Cardini invented the salad in 1924 in Tijuana, Mexico. According to The Telegraph, Cardini owned a restaurant in the tourist destination to “attract Americans frustrated by Prohibition.” The exact story is disputed, but the general consensus is that over Fourth of July weekend, Cardini threw together a bunch of ingredients he had on hand and served his concoction to his friends. Needless to say, the improvised dish caught on.

What’s Cooking America says the original recipe included “romaine, garlic, croutons, and Parmesan cheese, boiled eggs, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce.” Supposedly Cardini’s brother, Alex, came to Tijuana in 1926 and added anchovies to the salad. He called his version the “Aviator’s salad.” What’s Cooking America says that this version was so well-received that it became the standard and was renamed the “Caesar salad.”

Like most origin stories, this one is difficult to prove. I will leave it as it is and just grab a margarita cocktail under the Greek moon in order to celebrate THE ultimate salad.

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A highly motivated postgraduate with an MSc in Energy Systems and a BA in Economics, trying to find time for cooking!

4 thoughts on “THE salad.

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