Monday, February 25, 2008

White Tang: Cooking Light's Creamy Caesar Dressing

[Apologies to the estate of Jack London for the punny title. Ultimately, it won out over “The Call of the White-ld (Dressing).”]

Having attended approximately 48,344 weddings in the last ten years, I’ve had my fair share of Caesar salads. (And penne a la vodka.) (And chicken francese.) (And “Butterfly Kisses,” which is not a food, but rather the most overplayed, maudlin piece of treacle in the entire history of music. I barf on Bob Carlisle.)

Where was I? Oh yeah – Caesar salad. I’ve consumed many, and few have stuck out as anything more than “meh.” I’m not sure if that’s the nature of the dish (“It’s a Caesar salad. Whadja want, Lobster Thermidore?”), or subpar efforts on behalf of 98% of the food service industry. Too many restaurants and catering halls seem to believe that limp romaine + stale croutons + $0.99 bottled dressing = culinary tour de force.

I call fie on this. (Fie!) A good Caesar salad requires glorious parmesan, a sophisticated lemony-olive oil flavor, and dressing that doesn’t taste like the backwash of the damned.

Cooking Light’s Creamy Caesar Dressing takes care of that last requirement quite nicely. With a ten-minute prep time and a short list of readily available ingredients, it's a quick complement to a classy salad base. At $0.11 per serving, it's comparable to nicer bottled dressings in price, though the taste is fresher and way livelier. Two notes:

1) Tangy doesn’t begin to describe, so feel free to reduce the lemon juice a tad.

2) I used low-fat yogurt instead of the fat-free variety, and it worked fine.

Cooking Light graciously provided the nutritional information, so only price calculations are included below.

Creamy Caesar Dressing
Makes 8 servings of 1 tablespoon each
Adapted from Cooking Light.

1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, minced

1) Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour on salad. That's it.

Approximate Calories, Fat and Price per Serving
26 calories, 1.8 g fat, $0.11

1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt: $0.23
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice: $0.25
1 tablespoon olive oil: $0.08
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar: $0.05
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce: $0.10
1 teaspoon anchovy paste: $0.12
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard: $0.06
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper: $0.02
1 garlic clove, minced: $0.02
TOTAL: $0.88

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Carol G said...

I also barf at the thought or sound of Butterfly Kisses...ugh.
Love your blog, by the way, and I share it with others often!

Kris said...

Thanks Carol! (I worked at a catering hall in college and heard that song at least 50 times over the course of a summer. The horror ... the horror ...)

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Ooh, I'm excited about this recipe, as I've been missing out on Caesar with the fact that I can't have cow dairy or eggs. I'll have to find a Worcestershire sub, though, since I also can't have soy. . . .

Jen@BigBinder said...

I made this tonight. We didn't have any plain yogurt so I used low fat mayo... we loved it! Thanks for the recipe.

Julia said...

Ah, a fellow Cooking Light fan! Bless that magazine. I actually just posted a variation of their morning glory muffins (from July 2007) on my blog this morning.

Thanks for posting this recipe; I moved and haven't been receiving my cherished periodical.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I've been looking to experiment with yogurt as a base for a low-fat creamy dressing and this just made my tongue spin! I just made this and it is fantastic with tons of flavor and minimal calories! Superb

Sinanthiel said...

I made this recipe with 0% Greek Yogurt and it was soooo good! It was creamy, and I could hardly tell a difference between full fat caesar dressing and this low fat recipe. The yogurt is already tangy and since I get acid reflux, I only put in 1 tbsp of lemon juice and omitted the red wine vinegar and it turned out great! I also decided to put 2 anchovies in the dressing and blend it in my mini food processor. It was really good, and a great substitute for the anchovy paste. I will definitely be sharing this recipe with family and friends!

Lurch Meister said...

I made this tonight. I tripled the recipe. it tasted very vinegary. is there a way to multiply this recipe and still make it taste 'right'?

Shanna said...

hi, can you make this with greek yogurt and also can you skip the anchovie paste? i've seen other, similar recipes without??