Chicken Caesar salad is something I never ate back in the States because to me, I mean, it’s like the epitome of boring, extremely unhealthy, and what I imagine is most often comprised of a lot of pre-made, preservative filled ingredients. Chemical tasting croutons anyone? But my husband fell in love with it after having it for the first time in Belgrade. I know…..weird, right? After spending almost a decade in the U.S., we go to Serbia for a conference and he discovers it at a great restaurant there. They served it warm in a wrap that looked like it had been pressed in a panini machine, so even the dressing was warm…..and delicious. Then I found this great recipe by Jeff Mauro on the Food Network and was sold. Unless in aioli, the thought of mayonnaise is kind of revolting for me, but this recipe omits it by simply adding more sour cream. I changed this recipe slightly to reflect more of the flavors of my kitchen and added in a little charcuterie because, well, I like it! I also roasted, rather than grilled the chicken since: a) I don’t own a grill, and b) if I’m already using the oven for the croutons, why waste more energy by firing up the grill?
- package of boneless skinless chicken breast
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 lemons + zest
- 2 cloves of garlic
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup of sour cream (you can do low-fat, if you like)
- grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
- 1 tablespoon of tarragon mustard
- 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 anchovy (optional)
- head of lettuce of your choice (I use bibb, but romaine is the usual)
- pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half, or a few smaller tomatoes, quartered
- few slices of panchetta or proscuitto (optional)
- tortilla (pita or lepinja would work great, as well)
- a few slices of rye bread (any kind of bread would work, but I like rye), cut up into small squares
- salt and pepper
Marinate the chicken in a medium-sized bowl by combining about 1/4 cup of olive oil, the zest of one lemon, and the juice of 2 lemons in a small bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix once again. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Next cut up the bread in a small bowl and toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out onto half of a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Take the thinly sliced panchetta or proscuitto and spread out on the other half of the baking sheet.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
On another parchment-lined baking sheet, spread out the chicken. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until browned. At the same time, add in the pan with the croutons and panchetta/proscuitto. Bake the panchetta/proscuitto for a few minutes, or until it gets nice and crispy. Remove immediately. Add the tray back into the oven and cook the croutons for another 10 minutes, or until they get nice and toasty.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the dressing. Mix the sour cream, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, the juice of 1 lemon, the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, anchovy (if using), and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Toss the chicken, 1/2 cup sour cream Caesar dressing, tomatoes, lettuce, panchetta/proscuitto (crumpled up into tiny pieces), and Parmesan croutons in a large bowl. Fill the tortilla (pita or lepinje) and toast in a panini maker, if you have one. I don’t, so I simply toasted mine on the stove in slightly oiled pan.
Serve warm. Enjoy!