I don’t know about you, but starting dinner when I get home from work is typically the last thing I want to do. But of course, more often than not, it’s exactly what I do. I’m a routine oriented person burdened with many psychoses, one of which is the need to get all to-do tasks completed before allowing myself any relaxation (wow, I sound like a lot of fun). Really, I don’t have it too bad, there really isn’t that much to do on a daily basis – I mean it’s just my husband and me in a small apartment – but sometimes I just don’t want to cook, especially days I’m trying to get in some yoga. So, that is why I always looking for weeknight dinner ideas that don’t require too much attention but are still interesting and tasty. All of the hard, complicated menus can wait until the weekend!
Now, I know that a chicken Caesar salad doesn’t exactly excite the masses. Chicken Caesars are certainly not complicated and might even be a bit overdone. At first, I didn’t even want to write this post, I mean, I wrote a post on a Caesar salad last year! But when I came across this recipe on Food52 last week, I just had to share it. It’s so easy and so good. I made it twice in the past 3 days, the second time with a few tweaks. It’s ridiculously easy to execute as it eliminates eggs – but have no fear because even without the eggs this salad is not lacking in flavor.
The first time around I followed the recipe exactly and honestly, for me, the flavor was a bit too much. There was too much garlic, too much lemon, and too much anchovy. I toned it down the second time around and added in avocado for a bit of creaminess, tomato for color, and chicken for protein. With the adjustments and additions, the salad was perfect for a Monday night meal. Also, I fit in an entire power yoga routine while the chicken was cooking. So BOOM, multitasking at its best!
Adapted from Food52
Serves 4 as a small salad, 2 as an enormous salad
For the chicken:
· 2 – 4 chicken thighs
· 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
· Salt, pepper, smoked paprika to taste
For the salad:
· 1 large, but not too large, garlic clove, grated
· 3 tablespoons olive oil
· 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
· ½ – 1 tablespoon finely chopped anchovies
· 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
· Juice of ½ lemon
· 1 head crisp romaine lettuce, chopped
· 1 stalk celery, sliced
· ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish
· Freshly ground black pepper
· 1 ripe avocado, cubed
· Two generous handfuls of grape tomatoes, halved
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spread the chicken thighs out on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Then, season both sides with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. When the oven is hot, cook the chicken for 35-45 minutes total, flipping once halfway through. At the end of it all, the chicken should be crispy on the outside, but still juicy on the inside. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, slice the chicken into strips.
Grate the garlic over a large salad bowl. Add in the olive oil and stir to combine. After the oil and garlic sit for a few minutes, stir in the balsamic vinegar, anchovy, Worcestershire, and lemon juice. Then, stir in the Parmesan. Make sure to taste as you go to ensure the flavors are balanced. The first time I made this salad, I used a garlic clove that was much too large and nearly burned off my taste buds! The dressing can sit off to the side, melding the flavors, until you are just about ready for dinner.
When ready, add the chopped romaine, celery, avocado, grape tomatoes, and sliced chicken to the salad bowl. Stir everything to combine. Serve with extra Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.