Caesar pleaser

Broccoli and kale stand in for lettuce and croutons.

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Broccoli Caesar Salad with kale. — Connie Berry

Who doesn’t love a Caesar salad? It’s one of my favorite things to order when we eat out, and then I can pretend like I “forgot” to tell the server to hold the croutons, and the next thing you know, I’ve downed 10 of them. I think it’s the croutons plus the umami-ish flavors of the salad dressing, and it doesn’t hurt that I’m a sucker for salt. Salt and vinegar chips? Yes. Salt and pepper chips? Yes. Fried pickles? Yes, may I have another? (Confession: I like salt so much that I regularly add anchovies to my salad.)

I decided over the weekend that I’d look for a “healthy” recipe that satisfied my tastebuds, and I found it on epicurious.com. Sort of, because I always have to mess around with the original recipe. This one was for Broccoli Caesar Salad, and it calls for napa cabbage. If it’s not at “the big Stop & Shop,” I’m probably not going to purchase it. And I didn’t see it there. Besides, my son brought home a huge bag filled with kale from his farm job, so why not add that into the mix instead?

Making Caesar dressing from scratch is now going to be a staple for me. I had no idea it was so simple. Use a good whisk to pull everything together, pour it over the chopped veggies and you’ve got yourself something that not only tastes good, but also doesn’t include the menacing, carb-rich croutons. You won’t even miss them.

Broccoli Caesar
Serves 6.

2 anchovy fillets packed in oil (optional)
1 garlic clove
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Pinch of kosher salt
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise, or 1 egg yolk (I used mayo, and didn’t like the sound of raw egg yolk)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
2 medium heads broccoli, chopped
1 large bunch kale, chopped, or ¼ head napa cabbage, chopped
Shaved Parmesan for serving
Lemon zest for serving

Using the side of a chef’s knife, mash anchovies, if using, and garlic on a cutting board until a smooth paste forms. (I just chopped them pretty fine and then mashed them together with a fork. And if you see my husband, don’t tell him I actually used anchovies.) Transfer paste to a large bowl, and whisk in lemon juice, mustard, and a big pinch of salt. Add mayonnaise (or egg yolk), and whisk until smooth. Gradually add oil, whisking constantly until emulsified. Whisk in 3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan.

Trim woody ends from broccoli stems, preserving as much stem as possible. Peel any thick stems to expose tender inner cores. Cut off florets as close to the dark green flowers as possible, and break into bite-size pieces. Add to bowl with dressing. Starting at the floret ends of the stems, slice very thinly crosswise and add to bowl. Thinly slice kale crosswise (you should have about 2 cups), and add to bowl with broccoli. Toss until broccoli and kale are combined and evenly coated with dressing; season with salt. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. (It actually holds up really well in the fridge for a few days.)

Top salad with shaved Parmesan, some lemon zest, and a few healthy grinds of pepper.