A Modern Caesar with Shaved Brussels, Radicchio, Romaine & Little Croutons
Caesar salad will never go out of style. The combination of crunchy lettuce, good Parmesan, homemade croutons, and a just-puckery-enough dressing has and will continue to stand the test of time. It’s also a salad that lends itself to modification, depending on the mood. Consider, after all, the popularity of the Chicken Caesar …or the Kale Caesar, for that matter. So I’m throwing my spin on a classic into the ring. I call it a Modern Caesar with Shaved Brussels, Radicchio, and Romaine (with croutons, of course, and avocado, because why not?).
How to Make a Modern Caesar
One of the hallmarks of the salads I make at home is a variety of greens. This Caesar is no different. Here, I’ve added thinly shaved Brussels sprouts and radicchio, which brings more color, texture and interest to the bowl. And while raw egg yolk is traditionally used in Caesar dressing, I’ve left it out. I think the dressing can stand on its own without the egg (and plenty of folks have reservations about eating raw eggs). The other new addition is avocado, which adds richness and is a great counterpoint to all the crunch.
How to Shave Brussels Sprouts
No doubt, Brussels sprouts are a hearty vegetable. That’s why they must be shaved thin if you plan to eat them raw. Here are some options:
- A Food Processor — The slicer blade of a food processor make quick work of shaving Brussels sprouts.
- A Japanese mandoline — This is another way to get the job done. Just take care, since that blade is sharp.
- A Good Knife — If you have the time and skill, you can slice Brussels very thin by hand.
- Pre-Shaved Sprouts — Many markets now sell Brussels already washed, shaved, and ready to use. Easy!
A Healthy Spin on a Caesar
Beyond making the salad colorful and crunchy, adding Brussels sprouts and radicchio gives it a big boost of nutrition. Brussels are high in vitamin C, a source of fiber, and rich in phytonutrients that make it protective against a variety of chronic diseases. And radicchio offers a generous dose of vitamin K, which is excellent for building bones and may help offset age-related cognitive decline. The addition of avocado means more fiber and helps the absorption of other nutrients, including vitamins K and A.
Make it a Main Dish
Like all Caesars, this one makes an excellent side to myriad dishes, from roast chicken to simple pastas. You can also make it the main event by adding a source of protein. If you do, you’ll need to extend the dressing a bit, since you’ll have more to cover. So be prepared to add an extra glug of olive oil and squeeze of lemon. Here are a few suggestions:
- Serve one or two halved soft-cooked eggs on the side of each serving.
- Toss in leftover sliced chicken or cooked chicken breast.
- Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas. If you have time, roast them with a little olive oil and favorite seasonings until slightly brown and crisp (find the method here).
If you like this Modern Caesar, you might like:
Modern Caesar with Shaved Brussels, Radicchio & Romaine Caesar
The addition of shaved Brussels sprouts and colorful radicchio adds texture and a big hit of nutrients to a classic Caesar. The recipe also works in creamy avocado, which acts as a pleasing counterpoint to the salads bitter edge. Make it a main dish by adding a soft cook egg on the side or tossing slices of cooked chicken or chick peas into the mix.
- 2 heaping cups cubed crusty bread (1/3-inch cubes)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt Kosher salt
- 3 oil-packed anchovy filets (or 1 tablespoon anchovy paste)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 large clove garlic, minced (see notes)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 cups chopped hearts of romaine or Little Gem lettuce (about 1 romaine heart or 2-3 Little Gems)
- 2 cups chopped radicchio (if radicchio is too bitter for your taste, use endive or additional romaine)
- 8 ounces Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and sliced very thin using the slicer blade of a food processor or a mandoline (about 3 cups)
- 1 medium ripe avocado, cut into cubes
- Small chunk Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Pile the croutons onto a sheet pan, drizzle a few teaspoons olive oil over them and add a couple pinches salt. Toss everything together with your hands. Bake until the croutons begin to turn golden brown, about 6 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Stack the anchovies on a cutting board and use a fork to mash them into a paste. Transfer to a small bowl along with the mustard, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, water, salt, and several grounds of fresh black pepper. Whisk to blend. Add the Parmesan and whisk again. Gradually add the 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil to the bowl, whisking all the while to blend. Set aside.
Toss the romaine, radicchio, Brussels sprouts, and croutons in a large bowl. Drizzle on most of the dressing and toss several times to coat everything well. Add the avocado and a little more dressing, if needed, and toss again. Add more salt or black pepper, if desired. Generously shower the salad with finely grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
If you’re sensitive to garlic, leave the clove whole and immerse it in the dressing. It will infuse the dressing with flavor without some of the common side effects of garlic.