let's face it: one of the best parts of a classic caesar salad is that crunch you get when biting into a chopped head of crisp romaine. but here in wintery northern michigan, head lettuce is not always a local option for january, and given the romaine recalls of the past year, we all might be left feeling a little hesitant towards that california green as it is. our solution is a shoot salad, one that will not only provide that nice crunch we all crave, but will also serve as a year-roud, locally grown, highly nutritional, incredilby flavorful alternative to the well-traveled romaine. we use 50% pea shoots (chopped) and 50% sunflower shoots in our salads, to balance the sweetness & nuttiness of the greens, & top with homemade "croutes" (croutons) from crusty or "about to become stale" bread. it truly is a treat, and is an easy, vegetarian staple in our home.
homemade caesar dressing (approx 1-2 servings, but we usually make a bigger batch and use it over a few days):
1 clove garlic, peeled
~1 small spoonful capers (more if you like it tangy!)
1 tbsp grated vegetarian parmesan-style cheese
1 tbsp greek yogurt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
a dash of worchestershire sauce (optional)
to make the dressing, add the clove of garlic, capers & grated parmesan to a food processor; blitz until finely chopped. add the greek yogurt, extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, and plenty of black pepper, and blitz again until well combined. Taste, and adjust quantities as desired (remember it will taste strong and tangy straight from the bowl, so try dipping a sunflower shoot in the mix to sample).
when it's to your liking, combine a bit of the dressing to your bowl of mixed shoots. a little goes a long way, so start by mixing a bit and adding more as you go, until all the greens are covered.
to finish, slice up a couple of pieces of older, crusty bread and toss in a bowl with a light coat of olive oil. add italian spices to the bowl (basil, oregano, herbs de provence, etc.) as well as salt & pepper; toss to combine. sauté in a pan over high heat until the bread starts to brown; turn off heat and allow to cool before topping your salad.
(original vegetarian dressing recipe adapted from amuse your busche)