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Kale Caesar Salad

"I actually prefer this to the regular Caesar salad" - Callum, 17 year old

In North America right now, there is a lettuce shortage. Romaine lettuce costs $8-$10 a head in Canada so the Caesar salad has been wiped off most menu boards. For some people, this is the only salad that they will eat and romaine possibly the only vegetable ever ingested. What makes a Caesar so popular is the blend of umami, sweet and sour in the dressing along with the mix of soft and crunchy textures. A major problem with a regular Caesar is that the lettuce starts wilting as soon as you add the dressing so it can barely make it through a meal. This kale version eliminates the wilting issue while maintaining the flavours and textures.

You can follow the recipe here to a tee or use a commercial brand dressing and the customary toppings, but you definitely want to follow two important steps. First, the kale needs to be chopped fine and the spines and stems removed. I generally cut the kale into one centimetre wide strips. The next important step is to add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt and massage the chopped kale for about 30 seconds.

There is no shortage of Caesar dressing recipes on the internet, and you can easily find one that suits your palate or dietary restrictions. Many recipes will call for raw egg but this recipe uses sour cream as its base. There are vegan versions you can find that use cashews if sour cream or egg are not your thing. I love the umami flavour that anchovy adds to the dressing so I always use it but you can replace it with 1 tsp of soy sauce and 1 tsp of fish sauce. If you only have the soy sauce, it's fine, just add more soy sauce. You might also want experiment with nutritional yeast here too as it it often used to replace the umami flavour of foods like anchovy.

Caesar Dressing

Using an emersion blender and its accompanying cup, blend together:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 anchovy filet

1 clove of garlic

2 tsp honey

salt and pepper to taste (go easy here as the anchovy is salty!)

Add 1/3 cup sour cream at the end and blend with a spoon. (I have ruined dressings before by adding yogurt and then blending with an emersion blender- the yogurt liquifies and you get a very thin dressing. I assume this would be the case with the sour cream- if someone has any information on this, please share!)

Dress your massaged kale and add your toppings, toasted and salted pumpkin seeds are a surprisingly nice replacement for the usual toppings like bacon and/or croutons. I was going to add some parmesan but I forgot it and didn't miss it.

I know not everyone likes to make salad dressing, is there a commercial brand you love? Please share!

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