Ah, summer. How I remember the long, languid, carefree days infused with sunshine. The kind of brightness that shimmers in mid-afternoon air, making the trees, the leaves, even the parked cars look as if they’re trembling with sheer joy. Easy living, with no boots or jackets or scarves or sweaters. Being able to think, “oh, I forgot to buy lemons,” and–just like that–grabbing your car keys and heading straight into the car, just as you were, and you’re gone. The easy pace of traffic, whittled to a third of its usual volume as everyone is off to the country or busy playing tourist in other cities when the weather is fair. Easy cooking, with juicy summer fruits and crisp, exotic greens and–as often as you can stand it–ice cream.
Ah, yes, I remember it well. . . easy, breezy, beautiful
Cover Girl SUMMER. What a shame it refuses to reveal its shiny face just yet in Toronto (another day of rain. Sob).
Now, I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong idea about me or anything, but in summers past, one of my favorite pleasures was a good, cold, frosty gin and tonic. While I was never much of an alcohol drinker (I might have a glass of wine with dinner once or twice a month), when it came to summer, I loved sitting out in the sun on the patio with a big book and an equally big G&T. During the solstice season, the HH and I have a tradition of heading north for a long weekend. For the past 14 years, every summer we’ve taken the 2-1/2 hour trek up Highway 400 to our favorite country resort.* Once there, we spend the days soaking up the rays by the pool, reading all the books we couldn’t get to during the rest of the year, filling out the massive Globe and Mail crossword, and drinking gin and tonics.
It was bliss, I tell you.
(“Mum, what’s a gin and tonic? Because if we have to slurp one up to spend time in that pool, we’re on it!”)
Because of the ACD, however, I haven’t partaken of any kind of alcoholic beverage for over 2-1/2 years now. No wine with dinner. No Kalhua in my coffee (and no coffee, either, for that matter). No G&Ts by the resort pool. And, most certainly, no Bloody Caesars.
Perhaps that’s why I named today’s salad “Muddy” Caesar–the name brought to mind that erstwhile summertime cocktail, and the thought of summer was enough on its own to perk up my day. Or maybe it’s because the dressing resembles mud; a little gray, a splash of brown, a dollop of clay. Or, maybe, I just liked the sound of it.
Whatever the case, this is a great summer salad. Along with fresh fruits, homemade ice cream, frozen lattes and (in days of yore) gin and tonics, salads are staple summer fare in the DDD household. In fact, I’m sure that for many of us, the word “summer” is tantamount to “salad.” Not only are they quick to prepare and abundant this time of year, they are raw, which means no added heat on those steamy July afternoons; they are light, which means you can get out and play that much faster after eating them (or go swimming without that 30-minute wait period your parents always told you was essential); and they are jam-packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients that will provide all the free-radical fighting and nutrient density you need to frolick all day long in the sun. And while I wasn’t a huge salad fan as a child, I have come to really appreciate the veggie-and-dressing mix in recent years.
I’ve been aiming for a lower-fat diet the past few weeks (anything to vanquish those crazy extra pounds), so I’ve eliminated added oils in many of my recipes. This dressing worked out beautifully; no oil added, or needed, with avocado providing all the creaminess you can imagine. The usual pungency of Caesar dressing is achieved with the addition of a few cured black olives (thereby creating the salad’s muddy countenance), and the combination of garlic and lemon juice provides some bite and tang as you’d expect from this classic dish. Topped with ground pine nuts to simulate grated parmesan, you’ve got a Caesar facsimile that will please everyone.
Now, if only the weather would cooperate, you could eat this out by the pool, beverage of choice in hand.
*sadly, the place been slowly going downhill for years, and last summer was the worst. We’ve decided we can’t go back. Anyone know of a great resort north of Toronto?
[I snapped the photo before sprinkling with pine nuts. . .but did remember to add them before eating.]
Muddy Caesar Salad
This dressing is remarkably thick and creamy, even without added oil. The zucchini provide substance and moisture, but you won’t taste it in the final product. I haven’t used croutons here to avoid extra starches, but feel free to sprinkle the final salad with croutons of your choice for a more traditional Caesar-like salad.
For the Salad:
1 small head romaine lettuce, torn in bite-sized chunks
1 medium tomato, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 green onions, white and light green parts, sliced
For the Dressing:
1/2 small zucchini (about 4 ounces or 110 g), thickly sliced
1 small avocado, peeled, pitted and cut in chunks
2 small cloves garlic or 1 large clove
3 Tbsp (45 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) apple cider vinegar (or use more lemon juice for ACD Stage 1)
5-10 drops plain liquid stevia, to your taste
1 Tbsp (15 ml) mellow white or yellow miso
8 oil-cured black olives, pitted
1/4-1/2 cup (60-120 ml) water, as needed
1/4 cup (60 ml) ground pine nuts
Make the salad: place all ingredients in a large salad bowl; set aside while you mix up the dressing.
Make the dressing: Place all ingredients except pine nuts in a powerful blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add water to reach desired texture (it should be thick and creamy, like a thick sour cream). Spoon about half the dressing over the salad to start; toss until all the leaves are coated in dressing. You may add more if you prefer a more thickly dressed salad; if not, store remaining dressing in a closed jar or container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Sprinkle with ground pine nuts before servings. Makes 4-6 servings.
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Last Year at this Time: Green Monster Muffins (gluten-free, ACD friendly)
Two Years Ago: Mocha Cereal Cinnamon Muffins (not ACD friendly; not GF)
Three Years Ago: Dolmades, Deconstructed (Mediterranean Rice Casserole) (for ACD, omit raisins and use apple cider vinegar)
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I love the name of your salad! Haha great!
I guess I’ve just got summer drinks on the brain. (hee hee) 😉
I love the sound of that dressing Ricki and that first photo is beautiful. I sat staring at it for ages before I got to the post. Using avocado for creaminess is a great idea. I have three sitting in a bowl right now. Bookmark, bookmark!
Thanks so much, Jacqueline! 😀 I’ve made a milder version w/o the olives and it’s great, too. 🙂
Mmmm. I’m not a big drinker, but I also love a good gin and tonic. They’re definitely perfect on a hot summer afternoon.
Aw, now you made me miss them again!! (ha ha) 😉
I love the name. I am definitely trying this. I wonder if it would with sunflower seeds instead? I have those and am trying to not shop before I move in a couple weeks…
You mean instead of the pine nuts? Absolutely. You could even use ground almonds or cashews too. 🙂
Stephanie @ Lunges and Lunch says
Mm, this looks great Ricki!
I love using avocado as dressing.
Thanks, Stephanie! It’s such a quick and easy way to dress a salad–with built-in healthy fats. 🙂
You know, I long for a summer like you talk about. When I think summer, I think of how the A/C bill tops $300-$400. How in our old house, the A/C would in fact run non-stop from about 8am until the wee hours of the morning, and the bedroom upstairs would still be 80-something degrees at 10pm, and you’d lie down to sleep at night with no covers and the fan blowing and hope that it would cool off soon. How unless you’re blessed enough to park your car in a parking garage, that you better gingerly put on your seatbelt when getting in, lest you burn yourself on the buckle, and getting a steering wheel cover so you can actually TOUCH the thing without burning your hands. How in August, when you’ve already had enough hot weather, somehow nature manages to string together weeks of unrelenting triple-digit heat. You pray for October.
But then again, Toronto and Dallas are VERY different places! If we have snow, rarely does it stick. (although last winter we had a week solid where it didn’t get above 20 degrees, and we had sheets of ice to drive on – it made for 2-hour to/from work commutes for people like me) Our winters are over quickly – our last frost date is usually before February ends. So I suppose we trade one extreme for another, huh?
I do think we can agree that summer is the best time for lovely fresh veggies and fruit though! I long for summer berries and peaches. And this salad, with its muddy dressing, sounds delightful for a hot day.
Alta, what a great description of Dallas heat! You know, I think I *would* actually trade our winters for that! For some reason, in winter, when it’s really, really cold, even with the heat on full-blast, you are never warm. But I find that the A/C works even when it’s 100F over here (granted, a rarity–typically, it’s in the 80s or 90s F in summer). But you’re so right–nature always has a way of making us wish we were somewhere else!! 😉
Sarah P says
I am always on the lookout for new (vegan) caesar salad dressing recipes–and yours looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it.
Thanks, Sarah! I’m the same way. . . I love Caesars and am always game to try a new dressing!
yum–that dressing recipe look wonderful!
Peace and Raw Health,
Thanks, Elizabeth! 🙂
Johanna GGG says
wow that salad dressing looks amazing – glad I read past the salad ingredients which by themselves would be slightly dully but I’ll take mine dolloped with mud please!
sorry to hear summer isn’t quite reached you yet – though as it is still spring in your part of the world that might be to be expected [stern look and admonishing wag of the finger at the impatient sun worshippers – after all we never got a proper summer this year so I am less sympathetic than usual] But am glad it is bringing out your creative side when it comes to salads. Don’t know that I have ever had a caesar salad but I think that a bit of your eggplant facon would be excellent here
Yes, we are impatient for the sun and warmth! I’ll take that finger wag if it means I get to see sunshine 😉
The “bacon” would be PERFECT in this salad–wish I’d thought of it myself!!
You’ve done it again Ricki! This looks and sounds amazing. My Mom is famous for her caesar salad. I am going to have to test this one out on her and see what she thinks! Hope you find a new resort for your relaxing holiday!
Thanks, Maggie. Hope your mom likes it. Maybe she has a hotel recommendation, too–? (ha ha).
That photo perfectly captured what I crave – a slow summer’s day spent munching on salad.
I want to go to the cottage…now (well actually, when the sun returns).
Do you think the sun will EVER return?! A slow summer’s day does sound great, though.
Zucchini? Avocado? Garlic? What a wonderful way to add even more veggie goodness to a salad. This is my new go-to Ceasar salad dressing! Rita will love it too – I can’t wait to fix it for us. Thank you Ricki!
Thanks so much! Hope she likes it. 🙂
Too funny! I’m posting an avocado “sea Caesar” dressing on CR today. Ricki, we share a brain.
Ha, ha! Hopefully, we share two brains. . . (though I have been called “half wit” in the past!) 😉
Shirley @ gfe says
We had a gorgeous day here yesterday even though we did travel to our mtn/river property which was still flooded some–an indication of how much rain VA has also had. It’s beautiful right now, but there will be storms later. Hope they’ll hold off until after my niece’s college graduation party. 😉
Great salad and story leading up to it, Ricki! I’ve never been a fan of gin and tonics, but I know many who are and a big G&T with a big book does sound like it would be heavenly for many. I do love a good Caesar though, and this one looks delish!
Thanks, Shirley! Hope the excess water didn’t interfere with a fabulous weekend. You are so lucky to have a great property to which you can escape! Enjoy your own version of G&T and a book. . . (gardening and a GFE pizza, maybe?) 😉
The first time I made this the stevia did not hit my taste buds right (weird, with my sweet tooth). This weekend I made it and modified it for Rita, adjusting for our taste buds and other issues. We ended up with something like pourable green aioli, beautiful light green and yummy. Leave out the water and it can be a dip or sandwich spread. Thank you as always for great recipes and innovative ideas!
Yumm that dressing sounds seriously amazing with the avocado, miso and olives. Love that you put zucchini in there too!
The zucchini actually adds creaminess without fat. . . and you get an extra veggie with your salad! 🙂