I’ve switched out chopped Brussels sprouts for the romaine lettuce in a classic Caesar salad and subbed toasted breadcrumbs for the classic croutons. This way, every bite has the crunchy buttery flavor of a crouton which eliminates rooting around in your bowl for one.
If you prefer to shred or slice your Brussels sprouts, that will work as well but I find the smaller the piece the better because raw Brussels sprouts are a little tough and dense. This isn’t the prettiest salad but the flavor is all there and it is a great way to up the nutrient value of a Caesar salad.
Because this salad has essentially only three ingredients, it is important to use the best quality ingredients you can find, and make the dressing from scratch. To make it as easy as possible, I’ve switched out the traditional method of whisking and mincing to make the dressing in a blender. That way, it is as easy as making a smoothie. You put all the dressing ingredients in the blender_I use a smoothie cup_and blend away. In about 30 seconds, you have a perfectly emulsified creamy homemade Caesar dressing!
I like to use whole anchovies that are packed in a tin of oil, but if you are a little squeamish, you could use anchovy paste too. Don’t be tempted to omit the anchovies, they make all the difference in the world. Once the dressing is blended, you won’t even know that they are there, but their contribution to the flavor of the dressing is huge.
The other important part of the dressing is the egg. A friend of mine who considers himself a so-called Caesar salad king told me that in his opinion Caesar salad dressing isn’t really Caesar salad dressing without the egg to give it richness. I concurred and call for a coddled egg (a gently and barely cooked one) instead of a raw egg in this recipe.
If you have never coddled an egg before, don’t worry. It’s beyond easy. All you do is boil a small pot of water, place an egg on a spoon like you are dying Easter eggs, and hold the egg in the water for 40-60 seconds. Immediately following, you plunge it into a cold water bath to stop the cooking and you have a coddled egg that is perfect for making Caesar salad dressing. The short amount of cooking time in boiling water is said to kill the any bacteria from the raw egg and it is safer to make the dressing with a coddled egg instead of a raw one.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS CAESAR SALAD
Start to finish: 20
12 ounces Brussels sprouts, stemmed and chopped
1/2cup grated Parmesan cheese
toasted bread crumbs (recipe follows)
Dressing: Makes about 1 cup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3-5 peeled garlic cloves
3 anchovies or 2 generous teaspoons anchovy paste
1 generous tablespoon strong Dijon mustard
1 coddled egg
Juice of a lemon, about 1/4 cup
2 generous teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2cup olive oil, plus more if needed
Toasted Bread Crumbs: Makes about 2 cups
1/4unsliced loaf stale bread (I love leftover brioche),grated
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4teaspoon fine-grain salt
Clean and trim the Brussels sprouts and chop by hand or in a food processor. They should be diced. Set aside.
Make the dressing by first coddling an egg. Boil water in a small pot and once it is boiling, place a raw refrigerated egg on a spoon and lower into the water for 40-60 seconds. Immediately place the egg on the spoon in cold water and let it sit until you need it.
Place the rest of the ingredients in a small blender or smoothie cup. Add the egg and puree according to your machine’s instructions until the mixture is fully emulsified and creamy. Only add more oil if it is too thin. Season to taste. Set aside.
Toast the bread crumbs on the stove top in a large skillet. Melt the butter and add the salt. Swirl it around the pan so it coats the entire pan. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and stir with a silicone spatula occasionally, moving the toasted breadcrumbs to the top and the untoasted breadcrumbs to the bottom until all are crisp and toasted. This will take about 15 minutes.
Assemble the salad by mixing the chopped Brussels sprouts with the grated cheese. Next add about 1/2 cup of dressing and mix well. Season with a few grinds of black pepper and a few grinds of sea salt. Mix well and taste. You may need to add a little more dressing.
I like to make this salad up to this part and refrigerate for a few hours or even overnight to let the flavors marry. Top with the toasted bread crumbs and mix well just before eating. You want each bite to include the crunchy bread crumbs as this balances the raw Brussels sprouts and the Caesar dressing.
Nutrition information per serving: 264 calories; 180 calories from fat; 20 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 63 mg cholesterol; 615 mg sodium; 15 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 8 g protein.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and Southern foods expert. She is the chef and pit master at online retailer www.CarolinaCueToGo.com and the author of three books, including “Taming the Flame.”