Here in the dead heat of summer, it’s necessary that we make the most of the summer produce made available to us, and this creole Caesar salad recipe does just that. Chef Alexander Smalls details many summer recipes in his writings, but this Creole Caesar Salad recipe, as shared by Epicurious.com, is said to capture the entire essence of a southern summer.
Smalls’ creole Caesar salad recipe is fully loaded with fresh tomatoes, fried okra, and cornbread croutons, all tossed in a zesty red bell pepper dressing. The dressing especially is the real star of the show, as you’ll need to roast half of a red bell pepper in the oven until it becomes soft, charred, and intensely sweet. Then you sauté onions and garlic, and put it all in a food processor with chopped celery, vinegar, cayenne, mayo, and Parmesan cheese. With all of that flavor, it’s natural that Smalls refers to it as much more than a simple salad topping, but instead it’s a ““a Creole or gumbo sauce” that you can pair with almost anything.”
Creole Caesar Salad:
- 2 cups Fried Okra
- 2 heads romaine lettuce, leaves separated
- 1 cup cooked fresh corn kernels, chilled
- 2½ cups cubed cornbread, toasted
- ½ cup sliced grape tomatoes
- ½ cup sliced seedless cucumber
- ¼ cup sliced red onion
- Creole Caesar salad dressing (recipe follows)
Creole Caesar dressing:
- ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ roasted red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped celery
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
Preparing the Creole Caesar Salad:
- Place half the fried okra in a large bowl and add the romaine, corn, corn bread, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion. Add the dressing and toss until well coated.
- Divide the salad among six serving plates and top evenly with the remaining okra. Serve immediately.
Preparing the Creole Caesar Salad dressing:
- In a small saucepan, combine the oil, garlic, and onion. Cook over low heat until the garlic and onion are golden and tender, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic and onion to a food processor; reserve the oil.
- Add the vinegar, bell pepper, celery, sugar, cayenne, mayonnaise, Parmesan, and a pinch each of salt and black pepper to the food processor. Pulse until smooth. With the machine running, add the oil in a thin stream and process until emulsified. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Smalls knows you may be tempted to take shortcuts with this salad. But he asks that, at least the first time you make it, you don’t leave anything out. Just stay the course. As you prepare this salad, keep in mind the chef’s own words, “Once you’ve mastered the recipe, you’ll be equipped to branch out and make it your own,” he says. “Think of the salad as life in a bowl—you’ve got to learn the rules, then break them.”
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