One thing I look forward to each year . . . as much as I hate to bid goodbye to the heartier Winter time fare . . . is salad season! Right now we are teetering on the doorstep . . . ready to abandon ourselves and fall full faced into it! I do so love salads!
One of my all time favourites has to be Caesar Salad. I just adore them . . . crisp slightly bitter romaine lettuce, crisp and buttery croutons, Parmesan cheese, bacon bits . . . that tangy and garlicky dressing! It's just a beautiful melange of flavours, which lends itself to all sorts of adaptations!
I just adore a Grilled Chicken Caesar . . . but it is so often poorly done when you are eating out . . . and the prices they charge for it are absolutely ridiculous! It's positively criminal! I was looking at the menu of a certain restaurant the other day and they were charging £8.95 for a simple Caesar salad, and if you wanted some chicken with it, they wanted another £3.50 on top of that! LUDICROUS! I could see paying £8.95 for the whole salad with chicken, but for some lettuce and dressing? Nah! And chances are it wouldn't even be very well done either . . . rant over.
I had some cheese tortellini in the refrigerator that I had bought for something and couldn't remember what it was . . . do you ever do that??? Maybe I am losing my mind. In any case I decided to incorporate them into a Caesar type of salad. I also added some lightly blanched fresh broccoli florets . . .
I added a few chopped cherry tomatoes, which I know are not strictly Caesarian . . . (Can I use that term??? I guess I just did.) and I made my own garlic croutons from a stale French loaf I had hanging about. Homemade croutons are so easy to make. Just trim the crusts from your bread, cut it into cubes and then toss it with some garlic olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley and then spread them on a baking sheet and toast them in a hot oven until they are crisp and golden brown. So good, so good . . .
Some chopped red onion, a few large flakes of fresh Parmesan cheese for texture . . . and some grated for flavour . . . crisp smokey bacon bits, a hefty grind of black pepper and Bob's your uncle!! You have a salad fit for a king, or a queen! Really, it was quite quite good. Oh yeh, there was plenty of lettuce as well . . . crisp and slightly bitter . . . Baby Gems. Perfect!
*Caesar Tortellini Salad*
A delightfully quick and deliciously different Caesar Salad!
1 package of refrigerated cheese filled tortellini (about half a pound in weight)
2 baby gem lettuces
a handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 of a small red onion, peeled and chopped finely
1/2 a small bunch of broccoli, separated into florets
crisp garlic croutons
grated and shaved Parmesan cheese
your favourite Caesar Salad Dressing (I like Newman's own)
coarsely ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Drop in the tortellin and broccoli florets. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until done, as directed on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain again. (I spread it out on a large baking sheet which I have lined with a clean tea towel.
Separate your baby gems into individual leaves, cutting any larger ones in half if necessary. Wash and dry. Place them into a large salad bowl. Top with the red onion, cherry tomatoes and broccoli. Sprinkle on the garlic croutons, bacon bits and cheese. Toss with your favourite Caesar Salad dressing and then grind some pepper over top. Serve immediately. You may pass extra croutons and cheese if you wish. It makes a lovely light lunch! For a heartier meal add strips of grilled chicken or beef.