A quick and easy fish-free Caesar dressing for when you need a Caesar salad Right. Now.
Gosh, it’s been a while!
I want to thank you all so much for your patience while I’ve been on hiatus, and for all of the very kind comments, emails, and messages you sent in response to me taking a break. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
The break? It was good. It was necessary. It was grounding. And it went on for a little longer than I expected.
A few weeks into it someone asked me if I had a lot more free time than I did before, and in that moment the honest truth was no. It just made me wonder how I had been fitting it all in for so long. And I must admit, I really enjoyed the freedom that not blogging afforded me. Waking up on a Saturday morning and knowing that I had a full day of doing whatever I wanted ahead of me was total bliss.
But eventually I started to feel a little lost without doing this thing I do. And I was almost constantly drafting blog posts in my head. So a couple of weekends ago I dusted off my camera for the first time in months, and it felt good. Now I’m back, and my plan is to go at it at a slower pace than I was before, focused more on quality than quantity, and better work-life-blog balance.
It was fortuitous, though, that I took a break when I did, because shortly after I announced that I was hanging up the apron strings this happened:
And I quickly learned that pregnancy hormones are no joke.
I’m now 16 weeks along, and expecting baby Muffin Myth to arrive some time towards the end of February. We are, of course, ecstatic beyond belief.
I think that in terms of morning sickness, I was one of the lucky ones. I had exhaustion and constant low-grade nausea for about six weeks, but I was only actually sick one time. Food aversions, though, are another story altogether.
It was predictable, I guess, that the nutritionist would be hit with severe food aversions, and boy oh boy, was I ever. If I hadn’t of been on hiatus already I probably would have had to shut the blog down anyways, otherwise it would have been a blog about crackers. And bagels. And more servings of a certain boxed macaroni and cheese product than I care to admit. Because that’s AALLLLLL I could eat for a good six weeks in the beginning. But if there’s anything I’ve learned about the first trimester it’s this: just do whatever you gotta do to get through it.
For me, the worst of it was vegetables. The mere sight of some salads, especially anything with beans (in particular black eyed peas) or corn in the mix was enough to make me feel physically ill. I could hardly scroll through my instagram feed without feeling nauseated, and reading food blogs was absolutely out of the question. But it was particularly terrible when I went back to the family homestead for my vacation and well-meaning guests would proudly plunk a salad in front of the nutritionist / food blog lady only to have me turn green at the gills and push it away without explanation. Folks, I’m sorry. It wasn’t your salad; it was me.
Fortunately, the moment I rounded the corner on 12 weeks both my energy and my appetite started to come back, and I’ve been reintroducing vegetables, albeit a bit gingerly. For the most part, cooked vegetables go down easier than raw, though I’m also making progress in the salad department. I still can’t do anything with black-eyed peas or corn in it, though, and remain on the outs with beets.
I thought that I’d welcome you all back to The Muffin Myth the same way I’ve been welcoming salads back into my life: with a little hand holding in the form of bread, and a really good, and admittedly slightly indulgent, dressing.
Truth be told, I’m back to eating much more complex salads these days (I promise, mom, with all the colours!), especially if someone else makes them (Paul has been a rockstar in that department), but this is the only one that I really crave again and again. I was sitting on the couch one day and realized that I wanted a Caesar salad Right. Now. I do have a go-to vegetarian friendly Caesar dressing that I love, but it involves a bulb of roasted garlic and nobody has time for roasting a bulb of garlic when you need a Caesar salad Right. Now.
I considered a bottled Caesar dressing but a) they all looked pretty grody to me, and b) they mostly all contained fish. A traditional home made Caesar dressing starts with raw eggs, which I’d find gross at any time, but are definitely on the no-no list during pregnancy, so that was out as well.
So I turned to a tried and trusted mayo-based Caesar dressing (store-bought mayo is pasteurized, so safe to eat) and riffed on it to keep it veggie friendly and bump up the flavours the way I like them. This means using miso in place of anchovy paste for that hint of umami, soy sauce in place of the Worcestershire, extra lemon, extra Parm, and just a splash of hot sauce. And of course, since I’m weaning off of an all-carb diet, there had to be bread involved, so whole-grain olive oil croutons are in the mix.
A batch of this dressing will last the week in your fridge. I love packing torn romaine in a wide mouth mason with a little jar of dressing tucked alongside and a baggie of crunchy croutons to get tossed together at lunchtime. Paired with a hardboiled egg or some marinated tempeh for protein, this makes for a fine lunch.
The dressing is also great as a dip, in moderation, for fresh veggies. I’m really digging dunking carrots, radishes, cucumber, and baby romaine leaves right into the jar. And, err, I’m really enjoying it with sauerkraut. But maybe that’s just me?
One last note: while sharing the happy news of impending parenthood with you, I feel compelled to also let you know that this pregnancy is not my first. I know all too well what a painful and isolating place the internet can be when you’re struggling with loss and grief, and how difficult it can be to read this kind of post. If that’s you, please know that you’re not alone out there.
Real talk: this dressing is a bit of an indulgence. It’s definitely not an every day salad dressing (in fact, I almost never put dressings on my weekday salads, just don’t like it) but when you’re in need of a Caesar salad it’ll do the trick. Good nutrition is all about balance and moderation, so maybe keep this as a weekend treat, and keep the weekday salads on the healthier side of things. Whenever you decide to eat it, promise me you’ll enjoy it. Savour every bite. Put your fork down between mouthfuls. Close your eyes. And really taste the goodness.
One year ago: Turmeric Tofu Scramble and Spiced Saucy Corn on Toast
Two years ago: Spicy Black Bean Ragout
Three years ago: Chocolate Blueberry Oat Smoothie and Caprese Salad
Four years ago: Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Five years ago: Chocolate Zucchini Loaf with Quinoa and The Sandwich System
cheater caesar salad
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp light soy sauce I use Bragg's liquid aminos
- 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
- scant 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- generous 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp miso paste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups whole grain bread cubed
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Romaine lettuce torn, washed, and dried
- whole grain croutons
- Cheater Caesar dressing
- extra Parmesan for sprinkling on top
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk well to combine.
- Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C
- Toss the cubed wholegrain bread with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times, or until crunchy.
- In a large bowl toss cleaned and dried romaine lettuce with a small amount of dressing (this recipe will make more than you need for one salad). Add croutons and extra Parmesan, and toss again.
- Serve immediately.
-Cheater Caesar dressing will last a week in the fridge in an airtight container.
-If your oven has a convection setting, it's great for making croutons.
-Packed lunches: layer cleaned and dried romaine dressing into a container. Tuck a small jar of dressing and a baggie of croutons along side. Assemble the salad when you're ready to eat.