I’m warming up to Caesar salads. I’ve never been a huge fan, partly because I was a bit anchovy averse, and because the dressing is often so caloric. Somewhere I read that a Caesar with big yummy croutons, creamy dressing, and shaved cheese is just as unhealthy as eating a burger. For me, that’s all the evidence I needed to close the case on Caesar salad. Burger wins. Every time.
As I was searching for new ways to enjoy my favorite hearty greens, I came upon a few recipes for Kale Caesar salads. I began investigating recipes for lighter Caesar dressings and last week, I bought my first tin of anchovies! Time to give the Caesar a chance. The recipe I used includes eggs and no cream. If you want to skip the eggs and enjoy a creamier texture, try this one from SkinnyTaste.
I need protein to make my salad a meal, so I brainstormed hearty toppings for the Caesar base. I’m always working on increasing my vegetarian meal repertoire so beans came to mind. Like Caesar salads, I’ve always been a bit lukewarm on garbanzo beans. Black beans are my pantry go-to but the combo didn’t feel right with this dressing. I remembered a Pinterest post I’d seen some time ago that included roasted garbanzo beans (otherwise known as chick peas) on top of a salad. I assumed that you had to start with fresh beans but I learned you can use canned beans.
To spice my beans, I used this favorite spice blend from my officemates at Urban Accents called Mesa Rosa Chipotle. Tandoori spice mix or curry would also be good. If you don’t have any spice blends and like a southwestern flavor, try using a healthy dose of salt with a little sprinkle of ancho and/or chipotle chili powder.
Here is the most important part of this post: Roasting canned garbanzo beans is a total game changer! They went from mushy and a little boring to textured, flavorful and enticing. Those poor, bland beans right out of the can goup just need a little T.L.C. to become the star of the show.
My excitement grew as I made my way through this bowl of salad. It reminded me that new favorite recipes and flavors are just a slightly altered mindset away. This recipes hits all the right buttons: super healthy, easy to prepare, easy to store in the fridge for leftovers, full of texture and flavor.
Try experimenting with your own spice mixes on the garbanzo beans!
Kale & Brussel Sprout Caesar Salad with Spiced Garbanzo Beans
(with light Caesar Salad dressing)
serves 2 dinner-size salads
1/2 bunch kale (about 6 large leaves)
4 large or 8 small Brussel sprouts
Light Caesar Salad Dressing (see below or buy some!)
1 can garbanzo beans
Spice Mix (I used Mesa Rosa Chipotle)
If you don’t have a southwest spice blend, experiment with curry or tandoori seasoning.
Turn your oven to 350 degrees. Open the garbanzo beans, drain and rinse them. Let them dry or pat them dry with paper towel. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil on a sheet pan, put the beans on the pan and move them around to coat with a bit of oil. Sprinkle with your spice blend or salt, pepper and some ancho or chipotle chili powder. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they become a golden color, slightly crispy on the outside.
While the garbanzo beans are roasting, remove stems from kale leaves, wash and dry them. Cut into thin strips. Wash the brussel sprouts, cut off the base and shave the brussel sprouts into 1/8 inch thin shavings. Toss the greens together. Drizzle with the light Caesar dressing and use your hands to massage it into the greens. This softens the kale a bit.
Remove the roasted garbanzo beans from the oven. Divide the dressed greens into two salad bowls or plates. Top with half of the roasted garbanzo beans. Serve immediately.
Light Caesar Salad Dressing
Makes 12 two tablespoon servings
From Weight Watchers recipe archives
6 anchovies, canned in oil, drained
5 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1 medium glove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
1/3 cup olive oil
6 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (use quality cheese!)
Bring a small pot of water to a boil; turn off heat and carefully add eggs to pot. Let eggs stand in hot water for 3 minutes; cool under cold, running water.
Meanwhile, place anchovies, lemon juice, broth, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in bowl of a food processor; process until slightly thickened. Add eggs; process until incorporated.
Pour oil into dressing in a steady stream, whisking to combine. Add cheese; blend thoroughly.
Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Note: this dressing won’t be as thick as you are used to.