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Vegetarian Caesar Salad with Toasted Nuts and Polenta Croutons

As I noted in a previous post, I was one of a handful of lucky bloggers selected to participate in a contest hosted by Dave of eRecipeCards and sponsored by O Olive Oil. After much thought and a taste test, I decided to make a variation of my classic Caesar salad. The pressed extra-virgin olive oil made with California Mission Olives with Meyer Lemons crushed together along with a bottle of their elegant Champagne Vinegar seemed perfect for a Caesar salad. I often add fresh lemon juice when making my Caesar salad, but the lemon olive oil was even better. I cut down on the mayonnaise, omitted the red wine vinegar, and was sparing with the garlic because I wanted the oil and vinegar to shine in this dish. And it did.

Vegetarian Caesar Salad

To make the salad extra special, I roasted some mixed nuts and baked a batch of polenta croutons. The result was a rather bold salad, but subtle at the same time in the sense that the aftertaste pleasantly lingered in your mouth. Certainly, I will be wanting more oils and vinegars from O Olive Oil in the future. I have already make an asparagus dish with eggs and the oil and vinegar, in addition to testing the products with fresh bread and goat cheese.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have tested these fine products and for the chance to participate in the contest. The inspiration was a welcome challenge. I know my husband was savoring my culinary exploration.

vegetarian Caesar salad with roasted nuts

Thanks again to Dave and O Olive Oil. Do be sure to visit their respective sites. I know my discerning readers will be most impressed.

Salad:
  • a handful or two of polenta Parmesan croutons (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 large bunch Romaine lettuce
Dressing:
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons O meyer lemon olive oil*
  • 3 tablespoons O champagne vinegar*
  • 2 small cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions:
  1. Toast the nuts in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until lightly browned. Meanwhile, wash the lettuce and break into pieces.
  2. To make the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and black pepper. Add the Parmesan cheese and whisk for another minute. This may be made ahead of time and refrigerated in an air-tight container or jar until ready to use.
  3. Toss the Romaine leaves with the toasted nuts, dressing, and a handful of baked polenta Parmesan croutons (recipe below).
  4. Serve with some crusty bread for a delightful hot summer day lunch 

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