Definitely what I’d call a “date night” Caesar salad cos we are making this F-A-N-C-Y. Whoever you make this for is going to be impressed as heck. As always, I used a good quality olive oil from Evoolution for almost every element in this salad. Tips for this recipe - if you’ve been following my page for some time now, you’ll know that I use my mini food processor a lotttt - basically every single day. My fave kitchen gadget, and it was less than $30 from Superstore. If you don’t have one yet, I encourage you to get one! Caesar salad dressing comes together FROM SCRATCH in less than 10 mins. If you don’t have one, you can do this by hand using a whisk but it’ll take you longer. Much longer. Unfortunately u are not more powerful than a mini food processor.
Makes 4-6 servings
1/2 cup + 1 tbs olive oil
6-8 cloves of garlic
2 chicken breasts
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 a loaf of focaccia bread
2 egg yolks
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 tsp worchestireshire sauce
2 tsp lemon juice
1 head of lettuce, roughly chopped
12-15 heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
Grilled lemon, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a very small saucepan, add the olive oil. Turn the heat up to low, and once the oil is hot, add the garlic. Poach the garlic cloves until they turn light brown in colour, about 15-20 mins. Remove from heat and strain the garlic from the oil. Keep the oil and garlic separately.
2. Put the chicken breasts in a ziploc bag. Use a rolling pin or hammer to lightly beat the chicken, to thin it out slightly. This will help it cook faster and absorb the marinate quicker. To the ziploc baggie, add the balsamic, a good pinch of salt and pepper, 2 tbs of the garlic oil, lemon zest, and half of the poached garlic, minced. Seal the baggie and mix well to coat the chicken. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes to marinate.
3. While the chicken is marinating, prepare the croutons and dressing Cut the focaccia into 1/2 inch thick slices. Lay the bread down on its flat side, and use a sharp knife to cut thin matchsticks, about 1/2 inch thick in width. Lay the sticks on a parchment lined baking tray and brush lightly with 1 tbs of the garlic oil. Bake for 10-12 minutes - you want the sticks to be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, and the colour should not change.
4. To make the dressing, add the egg yolks, mustard, anchovy, worcestershire sauce, and the remaining garlic to a food processor. Turn the processor on the blend the base of the dressing to a smooth paste, about 2 minutes. Once you have a relatively smooth paste, add the olive oil, 1 tbs at a time, processing well to combine after each addition. When you are on your last tbs, add a big pinch of salt and pepper, and the lemon juice. If the dressing is too thick for your liking, add some water, 1 tsp at a time, and process, until you have reached your desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set in the fridge. TIP: dunk a piece of lettuce in the dressing when tasting to adjust for seasoning. It will give you a better idea if it need more salt or lemon rather than tasting it plain.
5. In a grill pan or cast iron skillet, turn the heat up to medium. Once the pan is hot, add about 1 tbs of olive oil and place the chicken in. Sear the chicken for 3-4 minutes to get a crust, then reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook for about 7 minutes then flip and cook on the other side for an additional 10-12 minutes or until fully cooked. Total cooking time will be around 20-25 minutes, depending on how thick your breasts are. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan and let it then rest for 10 minutes.
6. Slice the chicken into thin strips. To assemble the salad, put the romaine lettuce in a bowl with just over half of the dressing. Toss to coat the lettuce. Top with the cherry tomatoes. Lay the sliced chicken on top of the lettuce, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Serve at the table with the remaining dressing, croutons, and grilled lemon.