Every Thursday my parents have dinner with their friends the Taffets. You’ll hear a lot more about Robin in upcoming posts… she is making our wedding cake! We’ve been lucky enough to crash the party since we’ve been home in Denver and have had quite a few good dinners together. One of the great things about getting together with the Taffets is that my dad and Ryan get to eat exactly the way they always want to. We always have our most filling meals, be it steak or pasta or all of the above, with the Taffets because Al and their son Marty are big, big men too! So when we had Italian Night a few weeks ago, I knew that I had to make something a little more filling than a traditional Caesar salad for this group of big eaters.
I like this version of a Caesar because there are so many different textures and flavors in it. Let’s start with the romaine. Instead of chopping the lettuce, I’ve left the hearts in full leaves. This is visually appealing but also lends itself to eating the salad with your hands instead of a fork and knife. It gives the salad a formal touch without doing much of anything. The special ingredient in this salad is the crispy artichokes. I love the taste of artichoke hearts but I really dislike the texture when you buy them jarred; I think they feel slippery and soggy. In just a few steps I’ve transformed them into crunchy and crispy morsels that you’ll be searching for in every bite. Combine them with other big flavors like sweet sun dried tomatoes, creamy avocado, and an addicting homemade Caesar dressing and you have one heck of a salad.
Makes: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes
2 romaine hearts, stem removed
1 cups packed sun dried tomatoes
1 cup artichoke hearts (1 large container), drained
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 avocado, halved and diced
3 cups day old cubed bread
1 tsp cayenne pepper
olive oil to drizzle
1 egg yolk
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4-1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
- Start by making the dressing. You can make the dressing overnight or anytime before serving the salad. Keep covered and refrigerated, but move to room temperature about 20 minutes before serving. Whisk the egg yolk, garlic, lemon juice and Worcestershire together in a mixing bowl. Whisk while drizzling the oil in to make an emulsion. Season the dressing with salt and pepper just before serving, as the flavors will develop as it sits.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Lay the cubed bread pieces in an even layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season the croutons with the cayenne, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Rehydrate the sun dried tomatoes by pouring 2 cups of boiling water over them in a bowl. Let stand for at least 5 minutes. Drain well and roughly chop into bite-sized pieces if necessary.
- To make the crispy artichokes, drain the artichoke hearts and really pat dry with paper towel. Put the flour into a large zip lock bag and add the artichokes. Toss to combine so that all sides are lightly coated with flour. Strain the artichokes a second time to remove any excess flour.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the 1/3 cup vegetable oil. When the oil is hot (a little flick of flour will sizzle) add the artichoke hearts. Cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until all sides are lightly browned. Remove the artichokes onto paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
- To make the salad, lay the lettuce in a single layer in large serving platter. Layer the tomatoes, artichokes, diced avocado, and croutons atop the salad. Drizzle the dressing over top and serve immediately.
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