The traditional Caesar salad usually gets a thumbs down from a nutrition perspective. A 1 cup serving of an original recipe Caesar can provide around 180 calories with about 75% of these calories coming from fat (~ 15 grams of fat per 1 cup). If you think of the typical restaurant salad serving size, it’s easy to see how this dish might not be the best choice. Fortunately for fans of this salad there are ways to bump up the nutrient density of the dish, while reducing the calories.
The key to making a lighter Caesar salad is to maximize the fresh garlicky and lemon flavours while decreasing the total amount of fat. It also doesn’t hurt to swap out white bread croutons for whole wheat ones and to add extra nutrients in the form of more vegetables.
To make this salad I used 1 head of Romaine lettuce and added a cup of mixed chopped vegetables (broccoli, peppers, carrots). I then followed a very simple recipe to make my own whole wheat croutons using low sodium whole wheat bread (once you have had them fresh out of the oven you will never buy packaged croutons again). I then used a Caesar dressing recipe I found on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution website. The dressing was very flavourful, so make sure you add only as much as you need to just coat the lettuce.
* Interesting fact about the Caesar salad: It originated in Tijuana, Mexico, and it’s creation is mainly attributed to Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who operated restaurants in Mexico and the United States.
Light Caesar Salad with Whole Wheat Croutons
Serves 8-10 as a side.
1 head romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
* 1 cup mixed vegetables, chopped (if you are okay with a less traditional Caesar salad)
3 slices whole wheat bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried herbs, such as thyme, rosemary or oregano
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup low fat Greek yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of ½ lemon
1/8 tsp salt
Ground pepper, to taste
- Mix together lettuce, Parmesan cheese, chopped vegetables, and dressing. Top with croutons.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Mix bread cubes, herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper together in a large bowl and then spread out in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake, tossing every few minutes, until golden brown and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes
- Allow to cool.
- Whisk the yogurt, olive oil, grated Parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and lemon juice, together in a serving bowl.
- Season with the salt and pepper.
Recipe adapted from: