It does seem, if you spend any time around food on social media at all, that there are pretty much two options in life when it comes to jazzing up simple recipes: #putaneggonit or adding avocado.
And while I do hate to jump on a silly trend – you won’t find me making mermaid toast any time soon! – I’m afraid that in this case, “add an avocado” has its definite merits in this more-of-a-meal take on a classic Caesar.
Rounding things out on the protein front, the chicken is the star, but oddly enough the addition of sliced avocado to a salad already generously swathed in creamy dressing really does make this Chicken & Avocado Caesar Salad worth eating.
Now, you wouldn’t think that an avocado caesar salad would be that exciting for me, but it’s actually quite a feat to come up with a Caesar dressing that is not only eggless and AIP elimination phase friendly, but even coconut free.
One of the most frequent comments or requests I get on my recipes (and see on other AIP & allergy friendly recipes, too!) is, “I can’t have coconut… what can I use instead?”. So, I’ve endeavored to deliver here! The creamy with a hint of umami drizzle you see swimming around on this avocado caesar salad is completely free of coconut products. I’ll admit, I’m really pleased with how this turned out!
Although there are a couple of different components going on here – the dressing, the croutons and the faux parm sprinkles – this whole thing comes together quickly. I usually have the Nut Free Vegan Parm Sprinkles made up beforehand in my pantry, but you can skip them completely if you like. Meanwhile, the croutons themselves will last a couple of days stored in an airtight container if you make them ahead of time, too.
I always use already-roasted chicken to make this avocado caesar salad, whether that’s rotisserie chicken from the store or a bunch of batch cooked chicken thighs from the weekend. Whatever works for you! But if you’re using ready cooked chicken and even if you’re making croutons from scratch, the whole thing will take you about 15 minutes total, because you’re simply chopping some chicken, slicing some avocado, making a speedy immersion blender dressing and quick-toasting some crispy bits. Sounds like a lot, but it’s all very quick!
Please make sure to read over my notes with the recipe below for the dressing. It’s kind of a magic, I-can’t-believe-this-works recipe that works similarly to a classic toum recipe, but it can occasionally be a bit finicky, so I’ve gathered all my tips in one place to make sure that the dressing comes together for you right every time!
- 1 cup / 60 g Yucan Crunch, broken into bitesize pieces
- 3 tbsp / 45 ml avocado oil
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 4 medium cloves of garlic
- 1 - 3 flat anchovy fillets, to taste (see notes)
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml lemon juice
- ½ cup / 120 ml neutral avocado oil or very mild olive oil (see notes)
- Pinch fine sea salt, to taste
- 3 romaine hearts
- 3 cups / 600 g chopped leftover or rotisserie chicken
- 2 medium avocados, pitted and sliced into wedges
- Nut Free Vegan Parmesan Sprinkles, to taste
- CRISP: Add the broken up Yucan Crunch, avocado oil, garlic powder and salt to a bowl. Use your hands to work all the ingredients together until the croutons are evenly coated in oil and seasonings. Heat a small skillet over low-medium heat - any hotter and the croutons will burn rather than toast. Add the coated crouton mixture to the hot skillet and toast for 2 - 3 minutes, until lightly golden. You'll want to take them out when they look a little underdone as they'll continue to cook and darken further as they cool. Set aside for later.
- PREP: Lightly crush the garlic cloves with the back of a kitchen knife, then peel the cloves. Chop off and discard the tough ends of the garlic cloves. Add the peeled garlic cloves, anchovy fillets and lemon juice to a narrow jar or the blending container that came with your immersion blender. Blitz with the immersion blender a few times, enough to roughly chop the garlic and anchovies a little.
- EMULSIFY: Add ¼ cup / 60 ml of the oil to the jar or container. Keeping the head of the immersion blender touching the bottom, blend everything together until you have a soft, thick & creamy dressing base. If your ingredients don't emulsify at this stage, you will need to start over - check the notes for troubleshooting tips!
- BLEND: Leaving the immersion blender in place on the bottom of the container, add a further 2 tablespoons / 30 ml of the oil (it will sit on the top of the already emulsified mixture) and blend again. Repeat with the final remaining 2 tablespoons / 30 ml of oil, blending from the bottom, tilting the head of the immersion blender in a gentle circle to incorporate all of the oil from the top. When the mixture is almost completely combined, you can lift the head of the immersion blender up to ensure all of the ingredients combine totally smoothly. Add a pinch of salt, to taste. Set the dressing aside.
- ASSEMBLE: Cut the romaine hearts in half down the middle lengthways. Set the halves on a large platter, or divide between plates, as you like. Top with the chopped chicken and avocado wedges. Drizzle with the dressing (you may not want to use it all) and sprinkle with the croutons and parmesan, to taste.
A quick anchovy guide: add 1 anchovy for a mild, subtle flavor, 2 for a dressing with a bit more bite and 3 if you really like anchovies!
The Caesar Dressing is best used immediately. Over time, the emulsion will break down and then separate, so it's best to make just before you're planning to use it.
* Use very fresh garlic - older garlic is too dry and won't emulsify, leaving you with a watery, unusable result.
* Chilling the anchovies, lemon juice and oil in the fridge ahead of time gives more consistent results than using ingredients with different temperatures.
* Make sure that the immersion blender is at the bottom of the container and that you blend from the bottom of the container first. This helps incorporate the oil a little at a time, which makes for the best, thickest emulsion.
* Add the oil directly to the blending container with the head of the immersion blender already in place.
* Measure the oil directly into the blending container, using an electronic scale. It's more accurate and helps keep the proportions right.
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