Ok – I am ready for some sunshine! Getting the energy to write today was tough….maybe it’s vitamin D depletion? Ha. That’s why it was so important to sit down and soldier on. Writers block and delay tactics aside – like having to having to do that internet search on Florence and the Machine – here I am!
This month has been challenging! I blame the weather – February and March are tough on kids. Limited outdoor time sucks for everyone. We have been under cold weather advisories for the last few days and there is a ton of ice and grimy week old snow in the parks. I cannot wait for the April showers that bring May flowers
My son Simon has been particularly pent up. He is a 7 year old opinionated ball of energy who recently dubbed himself food critic. Everything I make is now subject to his stingy approval. It doesn’t help that his Dad is a chef – so he actually does know what he likes.
Today’s recipe is dedicated to Simon – Caesar Salad – it’s my “go to” kid pleasing dish. We like spicy – but if your kids are not that way inclined you can cut back on the mustard, garlic and anchovy paste. The crunchy cheese croutons and pancetta really make this dish.
Spicy Caesar Salad Recipe – Ingredients for the Salad
2 large heads romaine lettuce
1 c freshly grated Parmesan
Pluck the romaine leaves and wash to make sure you get rid of the grit. There is nothing worse than dirty salad! If you have a salad spinner use it dry the romaine, if not you can set the leaves aside and let them air dry. You can chop the leaves into 2 inch pieces if you like.
Ingredients for Croutons & Pancetta
3/4 pound pancetta, 1/2-inch thick
1 day old French baguette ripped to pieces
1/2 c olive oil
2 cloves garlic finely minced
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 shallots finely minced
Sea Salt to taste
Crouton & Pancetta Directions:
Heat a cast iron skillet to medium heat with olive oil. Add shallots, garlic and salt. Fry until just translucent. Toss in baguette pieces quickly then remove to a baking sheet, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and cook in a preheated oven (300 degrees) until crisp – approximately 15 minutes.
Cut pancetta into 1/2 inch cubes and fry in the same skillet over medium heat for 15 minutes until crisp. Put the crunchy bits on a piece of paper towel to blot off residual fat. Hey every bit counts right? 😉
Ingredients for the Dressing
1 large free range egg yolk at room temperature (washed)
2 tsp Kozlik’s Spicey Mustard (you can use Dijon if you don’t like the kick)
3 large cloves garlic, chopped (you can cut this down by one clove if you would like it to be less garlicky)
1 tsp anchovy past (optional you can leave this out if your kids don’t like it)
1/2 c freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1 1/2 c olive oil
sea salt to taste
*1 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (don’t use the processed stuff in a container!) to be tossed with the leaves.
Put all of the ingredients, except the olive oil in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth – then add the olive oil while processing in a thin steady stream to emulsify the ingredients. You are basically making mayo! *I always use the raw egg method – but because of contamination issues many people are very nervous about this. If you choose not to use an egg yolk you can substitute 2 tablespoons of mayo.
Put the Romain in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. I add just enough to lightly coat the leaves (I usually have some left over). Then toss in 1 cup of freshly grated parmesan. At the last minute before I serve the salad I will toss in the croutons and pancetta. There you have it – a lovely kid friendly salad!