Vegetarian Caesar Salad with Toasted Nuts and Polenta Croutons

As I noted in a previous post, I was one of a handful of lucky bloggers selected to participate in a contest hosted by Dave of eRecipeCards and sponsored by O Olive Oil. After much thought and a taste test, I decided to make a variation of my classic Caesar salad. The pressed extra-virgin olive oil made with California Mission Olives with Meyer Lemons crushed together along with a bottle of their elegant Champagne Vinegar seemed perfect for a Caesar salad. I often add fresh lemon juice when making my Caesar salad, but the lemon olive oil was even better. I cut down on the mayonnaise, omitted the red wine vinegar, and was sparing with the garlic because I wanted the oil and vinegar to shine in this dish. And it did.

Vegetarian Caesar Salad

To make the salad extra special, I roasted some mixed nuts and baked a batch of polenta croutons. The result was a rather bold salad, but subtle at the same time in the sense that the aftertaste pleasantly lingered in your mouth. Certainly, I will be wanting more oils and vinegars from O Olive Oil in the future. I have already make an asparagus dish with eggs and the oil and vinegar, in addition to testing the products with fresh bread and goat cheese.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have tested these fine products and for the chance to participate in the contest. The inspiration was a welcome challenge. I know my husband was savoring my culinary exploration.

vegetarian Caesar salad with roasted nuts

Thanks again to Dave and O Olive Oil. Do be sure to visit their respective sites. I know my discerning readers will be most impressed.

Vegetarian Caesar Salad with Toasted Nuts and Polenta CroutonsVegetarian Caesar Salad with Toasted Nuts and Polenta Croutons
Recipe by
Published on June 15, 2012

A tangy and zesty vegetarian Caesar salad with a lemon olive oil and champagne vinegar dressing and tossed with toasted nuts and polenta Parmesan croutons

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  • a handful or two of polenta Parmesan croutons (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 large bunch Romaine lettuce
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons O meyer lemon olive oil*
  • 3 tablespoons O champagne vinegar*
  • 2 small cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • Toast the nuts in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until lightly browned. Meanwhile, wash the lettuce and break into pieces.

  • To make the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and black pepper. Add the Parmesan cheese and whisk for another minute. This may be made ahead of time and refrigerated in an air-tight container or jar until ready to use.

  • Toss the Romaine leaves with the toasted nuts, dressing, and a handful of baked polenta Parmesan croutons (recipe below).

  • Serve with some crusty bread for a delightful hot summer day lunch.

Makes 4 to 8 servings

*Substitute a salad olive oil and a teaspoon of lemon juice for the meyer lemon olive oil if necessary
*Substitute a dry vinegar such as a white wine vinegar for the champagne vinegar if necessary

Polenta Parmesan CroutonsPolenta Parmesan Croutons
Recipe by
First published on May 11, 2008

Dense and delicious polenta croutons baked with Parmesan cheese

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  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and pour in the cornmeal, stirring constantly. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in the cayenne, salt, olive oil and black pepper.

  • Grease an 8 × 8 baking pan. Transfer the polenta into the pan and spread evenly with a spatula or knife. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Leave to cool.

  • Preheat an oven to 450° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the polenta into small cubes and gently transfer the cubes to the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until the croutons are crisp and golden, flipping occasionally with a pair of tongs so that each side of the cubes browns evenly.

Makes about 3 dozen croutons
vegetarian Caesar salad with toasted nuts and fine quality olive oil and vinegar

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Good one plates with vitamins