Southern Style Creole Caesar Salad: A New Orleans/Italian Mix

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As a general rule, I try to avoid a few dishes that seem to pop up on menus everywhere. The Caesar salad is one of them. When asked to provide a Caesar salad I usually throw out this Southern style version which always proves to be a hit. It’s based on the New Orleans Wop salad, which is essentially an Italian style salad (wop was a slur against Italian immigrants) made with Creole ingredients and some old-country know how from Italy.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 12 shrimp, cooked and peeled
  • 16 grape tomatoes
  • Shaved Romano cheese
  • 30-40 Cheddar bay croutons (recipe follows)
  • 8 tablespoons Shrimp Remoulade
  • 8 asparagus spears, blanched or raw, it’s up to you.

Instructions:

Toss the lettuce with the shrimp remoulade and portion it onto plates. Top with a few tomatoes and shrimp on each salad, two pieces of asparagus in an x pattern, and several of the croutons. Use a potato peeler to create thin, long slices of the Romano cheese and mound a few on the center of the salad. You can plate the salad a while in advance, but apply the croutons last so they remain crispy.

For Cheddar Bay Croutons:

  • 1 loaf white bread
  • 1/2 bottle powdered cheddar popcorn seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup Melted butter or butter flavored oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut the bread into bite size cubes while it’s still frozen, as this will prevent it from being smashed by the knife or crumbling.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss to coat.
  4. While still tossing the ingredients, slowly drizzle the butter or oil over top and stop when all of the croutons have a sheen of butter.
  5. Bake for five minutes and then check the croutons, using a spatula to shift them around.
  6. Bake for 4 more minutes and then shift them around again if they’re not all golden brown.
  7. Another few minutes may be required, but usually around 10 minutes total will do.
  8. Allow the croutons to cool and then store in an airtight container.

This Recipes Serves 4

For Shrimp Remoulade:

  • 10 pre cooked peeled shrimp without tails
  • ¼ cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 2 chopped sweet gherkin pickles
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons pimento
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 4 green olives
  • 1 tablespoon Creole mustard
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp Frank’s Red Hot or other hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp old bay
  • 2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1 16 oz bottle prepared Caesar dressing
  • 1 cup mayonnaise

This remoulade is kind of an all purpose cold sauce for me – it’s great served with most anything from vegetable crudités to my Julius On The Bayou salad or the Crab Louie recipe  and, if you add chopped shrimp or crab meat, it can be a simple dip to serve with crostini.

To make the sauce, place the garlic, pimento, capers, olives, chives, parsley, Romano and shrimp in a food processor and chop into a fine paste. Add the spices, Worcestershire, Hot sauce, and lemon juice and mix until smooth. Finally, add the Caesar dressing and mayonnaise and mix it. Drizzle the remoulade sauce over your crab cakes or serve on the side.

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