Making dinner as of late has been a great adventure – playing around with proteins and flavours – but when it comes to sides, I inevitably end up pairing everything with a simple tossed salad. Now don’t get me wrong, I love salad. It’s not like it is the same ol’ thing every time either, it’s just variations on the same vinaigrettes and whatever veg is on hand. Johnny has the habit of forgetting to eat when he is working down in his studio. Come dinner time, I like to make sure that there is some roughage and greenery included in his day.

This salad isn’t earth-shatteringly new, but it retains the healthful saladness adding a bit of style.

We don’t do a lot of caesar salads, especially out, I’m so wary of what goes in them. I’m not a crazy woman when it comes to the waistline watch, but I hate being under the impression that I’m eating something low-fat and wholesome only to find out it would have been better to have pizza or a burger instead.

Pasta is something I often go to when I need dinner to come together quickly. This salad makes me feel like I’m getting a restaurant quality spread on a week night at home. Johnny loves anchovies and I love fennel – this is a sweet marriage if the two. It pairs well with any main, it is simple and rustically elegant.

FENNEL CAESAR SALAD AND HERBY CROUTONS

serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main

Pair this little number with pasta or pizza, a roast or barbecue. It is so easy and quick, but the addition of the fennel and fronds make it something a little special. It works topped with some tuna or leftover chicken, or try a few skewers of grilled tofu.

I like the pan fried method for making croutons – they retain a little chewiness inside – and you can toss in the herbs and cheese at the end.

 

1 head of romaine lettuce

1/2 a fennel bulb, quartered and sliced very thinly, leafy fronds reserved

1 large shallot or 2-3 small ones, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise

Dressing:

3 tbsp olive oil

1 – 2 tsp anchovy paste

juice of half a lemon

1 tsp spicy Dijon mustard

1/8 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp fennel seeds, ground in a pestle and mortar

kosher salt to taste

an aggressive amount of fresh ground cracked pepper to taste

 

Croutons:

2 – 4 thick slices of stale bread, cut into 1″ – 2″ chunks

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp crushed fennel seeds

1 tsp dried oregano

kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

2 tbsp grated Parmigiana

2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

 

Heat a skillet – I prefer cast iron – on medium high. Add your oil and toss in your bread and spices, reserving the cheese and parsley. Mix about until toasty, about 5 minutes. Add the cheese and parsley for the last minute or 2. I like to serve these while still a little warm.

caesar

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