It is finally March in the Carolina’s, which means that Mother Nature is starting to show her beautiful signs of spring! Daffodils and pansies are in bloom, and day lilies are pushing their green leaves out of the warming soil. After all of the grey days of the “uary” months (as my husband and I call them . . . Jan”uary” and Febr”uary”), we welcome the hints of green that begin to show us hope for spring and the coming warmer days ahead. We spent the weekend cleaning out all of our gardens, tilling and preparing the soil, and mulching our flower beds.
To some this seems to be nothing but work.
Yet for me, it’s just a joy to be outside again after feeling confined indoors for months.
Spring is simply my favorite time of year!
the colors of vibrant blue and yellow just captivate the eyes!
joyful, happy, yellow daffodils announce springtime
and the happy faces of blue/purple pansies that show off this rarest of garden colors!
“Green” is also this month’s theme for the March Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club. A perfectly timed theme! I chose to make a lighter version of the classic Caesar Salad and was wondering throughout the process how this salad could be ‘outstanding’ as described on the Cooking Light web-site.
Oh wow, does this salad live up to its definition! After cleaning my salad plate, I ate the rest of the salad out of the mixing bowl!
My husband had one piece of lettuce and immediately turned up his nose and said, “Ugh, I taste those little anchovies, but I suppose I could enjoy this.” He just dislikes anchovies like no other!
. . . poor guy! I just don’t know what I’m going to do with him sometimes!
But this salad is just incredible, despite it’s reduction in calories thanks to the ingenious folks of Cooking Light magazine . . . and I’ll make it over and over again! I made a few adjustments by adding a little more olive oil to thin down the dressing and added one more clove of minced garlic (I mean, “why not?”). I also used olive oil-based mayonnaise instead of canola mayonnaise. After all, this is an Italian salad!
Take a fresh loaf of Italian bread
cut about 4 – 5 slices 1″ wide, then cut into 1″ cubes
place on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven
toast for 10 minutes
(watch them carefully so the bread cubes do not burn)
toss the warm toasted bread cubes with the olive oil
I also added some ‘Tuscan” Italian-blend seasonings
grate fresh Parmigiana-Regiano cheese
using pesto and the following fresh ingredients.
I freeze tiny little containers of basil pesto every summer
(click on ‘basil pesto‘ for the link)
this holds about 3Tbsp. of pesto . . . just perfect!
squeeze 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
mince 2 cloves of fresh garlic
in a medium mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients
add anchovy paste, Dijon mustard, Worcesteshire sauce,
lemon juice, and minced garlic
place freshly cut romaine lettuce in a large salad bowl
add the dressing
add the toasted bread cubes, toss well
serve on pretty plates
garnish with grated Parmigiana-Regiano cheese
and anchovy fillets
Fresh Pesto Caesar Salad
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- 3 oz. Italian bread, sliced, then cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1-1/2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil (I doubled this, you need it!)
- Italian-blend seasonings (I added this)
- Cooking spray
- 2 ounces Parmigiana-Regiano cheese
- 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise (I used olive oil-based mayonnaise)
- 3 Tbsp. refrigerated pesto (I used my own home-made pesto)
- 4 tsp. water
- 2 - 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (my addition)
- 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. anchovy paste
- 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce (I used Tabasco)
- 1 garlic clove, minced (I doubled this to two cloves)
- 12 cups torn romaine lettuce
- anchovy slices for garnish (my addition)
- freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste (my addition)
- Take the Italian bread and cut about 4 – 5 slices 1" wide, then cut into 1" cubes.
- Place on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven.
- Toast for 10 minutes (watch them carefully so the bread cubes do not burn).
- Toss the warm toasted bread cubes with the olive oil.
- I also added some ‘Tuscan” Italian-blend seasoning to the warm oiled bread crumbs.
- Prepare dressing with olive oil-based mayonnaise.
- Combine grated cheese, mayonnaise, and next 8 ingredients (including the pesto through garlic) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
- Combine croutons and lettuce in a large bowl.
- Drizzle dressing mixture over lettuce mixture; toss to coat.
- Place individual portions of the salad on each plate.
- Top each serving with 1 tablespoon shaved cheese.
- Crack fresh black pepper and sea salt all over to taste!
La Bella Vita Cucina http://www.italianbellavita.com/
Here are some other delicious salads that I have prepared that I know that you will enjoy:
Panzanella Salad with Pancetta, Tomato and Basil