If your idea of a virtuous dinner out is ordering the grilled chicken Caesar salad, you should prepare yourself for some disappointment.
These salads may sound light, but they can pack some serious fat and calories. At one national chain restaurant, for example, the grilled chicken Caesar salad serves up more than 1,000 calories and 64 grams of fat.
These salads sound healthy because the basic components are — greens and boneless, skinless chicken breast. It's when you dump on buttery croutons, shredded cheese, fatty dressings and crumbled bacon that the trouble starts.
But at home you can make a dinner-sized salad to feel good about. This grilled chicken salad is tossed with a low-fat dressing made with the richly flavored pulp of roasted garlic (an excellent stand-in for fat).
For this dressing, which can be made up to two days in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator, the roasted garlic is pureed with creamy nonfat yogurt and just a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
The dressing gets an added burst of flavor from a small amount of Parmesan cheese as well as a few anchovy fillets, which are traditional Caesar ingredients.
Pepper-crusted Chicken Salad With Roasted Garlic Caesar Dressing
For the dressing:
1 large head garlic
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
For the salad:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts trimmed of fat
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
8 cups washed, dried and torn romaine lettuce
1 cup fat-free croutons
Shredded Parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
To make the dressing, on a cutting board, using a sharp knife, slice about 1/2 inch off the top of the head of garlic, exposing the individual cloves. Set the head on a square of foil and sprinkle with a tablespoon of water. Pinch together the edges of the foil to create a packet. Roast for 45 minutes. Unwrap and let cool slightly before squeezing the pulp from the cloves.
In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the roasted garlic pulp, yogurt, cheese, oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and anchovies. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the salad, heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire.
Rub the chicken with oil and season with salt. Coat the outsides heavily with pepper. Grill the chicken until browned and a thermometer reads 165 degrees at the center. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce and croutons. Toss with 1/2 cup of the dressing, then divide among 4 plates. Cut the chicken into 1/2-inch slices and arrange over the salad. Garnish with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional information per serving: 257 calories (77 calories from fat), 9g fat (2g saturated, 0g trans fats), 73mg cholesterol, 11g carbohydrates, 33g protein, 2g fiber, 519mg sodium.