A chef at the Pelicano’s restaurant at Hyatt Zilara Cancun created this twist on Caesar salad dressing as a solution for my citrus allergies. I fell in love with it and so has my family/guests. Traditional Caesar salad dressing contains lemon juice, olive oil, raw or coddled egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and black pepper. This version contains only basil pesto sauce and a little additional olive oil. It is much more figure-friendly. This dressing is extremely easy to prepare and will impress your guests. You’ll hear reactions such as, “I never thought about this before!” and “I have plenty of pesto sauce at home!” and “It’s much healthier than Caesar dressing!” and even, “I like this better than Caesar salad!”
A magnificent variation on traditional Caesar salad dressing that everyone will be copying. It's so delicious and such a surprise!
For the Croutons:
3 slices gluten free baguette (Schar) toasted in oven
Olive oil spray, for croutons
For the Salad
1 head romaine lettuce, sliced to 1/2-inch wide and sliced in half
For the Dressing:
2 parts gluten free basil pesto*
1 part extra-virgin olive oil
Grated and shredded Parmisano Reggiano Cheese
To Make the Croutons:
Preferably do this the day before. Preheat the oven to low broil.
Slice off a few pieces of baguettes from a parbaked loaf or another brand that is fully baked. Slice into small, bite-size pieces and place in a cake pan or small baking sheet. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic and onion powder. Toss to combine. Repeat on the other side. Bake until brown and crisp, 5 - 10 minutes. (I boosted mine to high broil for the last minute.) Allow them to cool completely. Then, allow to them to stale further on a countertop loosely covered with a tea towel.
To Make the Salad:
Slice the lettuce and place on individual plates. (You can even skip the slicing when you're in a hurry and serve it as you would a lettuce wedge, topped with everything.)
Add the croutons and drizzle with a mixture of pesto sauce and olive oil. Sprinkle with the cheese and serve immediately.
Feel free to experiment with other varieties of lettuce.
Add sliced grilled chicken, Romano cheese, capers, anchovies, and/or gluten free bacon. These are all common variations.
Dairy-Free Pesto Sauce:
Pureee together the following:
3 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted pine nuts or blanched almonds
3 large garlic cloves
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white (or black) pepper
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
*While Classico Traditional Basil Pesto is gluten free, it is not my favorite. If that is the only one you can find, then puree it in a small food processor with some additional grated Parmesan cheese and blanched almonds or pine nuts. For nut -free, replace the nuts with sesame seeds. Do not use if dairy intolerant as it contains Parmesan cheese.
A good replacement for cheese in many recipe is additional salt along with crumbled firm tofu. However, to use pesto as a dressing, you can omit the cheese altogether.