Homemade Cesar Salad with Polenta Croutons and grilled Chicken

It was something that we were both craving: a nice cesar salad with a twist, I wanted to make it a little healthier with still the delicious flavor. It’s such a heavy salad and with all the heavy ingredients I feel like you could just eat a plate of pasta instead. So, yes I tweaked it and it was delicious. I decided that polenta was going to replace the white flour bread croutons that famously go with this salad, and the dressing was going to be lighter and healthier. Yum!

Here in Italy we obviously don’t have Cesar salad contrary to the popular opinion of people thinking that this salad is Italian. It’s actually originally from Mexico, Tijuana named after the Chef Cesar Cardini an Italian immigrant who invented it in 1924. The original recipe doesn’t contain anchovies. However there are many variations of this salad with some recipes including different ingredients such as mustard, egg, avocado, tomato, bacon bits, garlic cloves or anchovies. I do like this salad and so I added an ingredient of my own. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup of Polenta Croutons (recipe below)

2 Chicken breasts, grilled and chopped

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped*

1/3 cup 0% Greek yogurt

2 tbsp Olive oil

2 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

1 clove Garlic, minced

Juice form 1/2 a lemon

2 Anchovies, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Place your chicken breasts on the grill, and allow to cook for about 15 minutes turning once, or until the juice from inside the chicken is clear.

Meanwhile place your chopped romaine in the bowl. Whisk the yogurt, olive oil, parmigiano, garlic, lemon, anchovies and pepper in a bowl until smooth. Add salt at the end and be the judge of how much you need.

Get your chicken slice it into strips. Toss the lettuce with the dressing and start plating.
Place the salad down first, then the chicken strips followed by the polenta croutons. If you choose, shave some parmigiano on at the end.

For the polenta croutons:
Follow the recipe on the box for one serving. Once ready pour onto something flat and lay out evenly about and inch thick. Allow to cool. Slice into cubes. Place a nonstick pan over medium flame and drizzle some olive oil place the cubed polenta and allow to get golden, flip and allow the other side to get golden continue with all sides. Set aside and then serve. Simple as that.

* Instead of Romaine you can use whatever you like. I used 3 different versions of radicchio

 

 

Healthy Side Dish Alternatives for Christmas

Christmas, Yet another holiday is among us and life is at its ultimate stress mode. There is so much to get done, so many things to decide and so little time to do it.
First of all I want to tell you the one secret, Breathe! No one is expecting you to perform the way you are expecting yourself to perform. You are your biggest judge, and Christmas is a time of Love, Forgiving and no Judging. So just breathe, it’s not like if you stress you are gonna get anything extra accomplished. It actually might just do the opposite.

I am one of those girls that like to occasionally spice up a Holiday Tradition; what I mean by this is sometimes I like to make roasted potatoes vs. mashed potatoes, or throw in a lasagna, or just make something different to add to the Turkey or Chicken and all the other standard side dishes that go along this festive late lunch/dinner.

Vegetables, yes I pretty much name this food group in every single one of my posts because I simply love them and can’t imagine my meals without them. So I have just a few simple and fast side dishes that will keep your dinner lighter but still delicious.

Lets start off with something I came up with that ended up being a success not to long ago when I had to bring something to a lunch. It can be served as an appetizer, finger food or main course if you’re going all vegetarian. Really simple.

Ricotta and Pesto Stuffed Artichoke Cap

Ricotta and Pesto Artichoke

Get your Artichoke cap*, scoop a 1/2 tbsp. of Pesto** and a dollop of Ricotta***, sprinkle some Pepper. Place in a baking tray drizzled with a little olive oil and  bake in the oven at 320° for 20 minutes.

*For the Artichoke: I found some frozen artichoke caps, I boiled them for 10 minutes and let them cool. You could try to do with fresh artichoke just remember to clean correctly and boil for approx. 20 minutes. You could also substitute with mushrooms caps.
**For the Pesto: I used a fresh store-bought version. I think in the USA you could probably find the Barilla version, if it’s to thick? Take it out if the container, put in a bowl add some olive oil mix until a little more creamy.
***For the Ricotta: Put the ricotta in a small bowl, add a drizzle of olive oil, some salt and 2 tbsp. of either Parmigiano or Pecorino. Incorporate all ingredients and that’s it.

Now for Side dishes I have a few delicious options:

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

Put your clean and chopped Cauliflower in a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper and bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes. It tastes so good you would’ve never thought that so little ingredients could make Cauliflower taste so darn good.

Roasted Cabbage with Pancetta

Roasted cabbage with Pancetta

Grab a head of cabbage and slice it in 4 or 8. Get out 4 or 8 big enough piece of aluminum foil to cover each piece of cabbage individually. Lay out 1 pc. of foil, place 1 slice of cabbage facing up, drizzle olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper, get about 1 tbsp. of diced pancetta and sprinkle on top. Cover the cabbage completely with the foil, to where no holes (like if you were to steam). Repeat the same steps with remaining cabbage. Place in the oven and bake at 380° for 25-30 minutes. Leave in foil so each person can open in their own plate.
Be careful when you open as steam may let out.

Artisanal Flat buns

You can also try out these Artisanal flat buns recipe here, so delicious and perfect to accompany your dinner, or for a sandwich with the leftover Turkey.

And last but not least I always prepare a salad, it’s fresh and perfect for accompanying a heavy meal. Here are some recipes:
My Light Grilled Corn and Mushroom Salad
Elegant Zucchini Ribbon Salad
Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad
No-Carb Grilled Veggie Stack

Well, I hope that I gave you some yummy and healthy ideas for this Holiday feast or for any other day. Happy Holidays!

Ciao