Big Crouton Yogurt Caesar Salad

This salad will remind you of an actual Caesar, but since it doesn’t have anchovies or raw egg yolks, that’s as far as it goes. Still, the garlicky yogurt and mustard inform a heady, creamy dressing that would make Brutus double take. When it comes to the bacon, you might as well buy the best you can find, since it’s only a small amount. I use pancetta here, which I think really stands out in an already very tasty salad.
Serves 4 to 6

1/2 pound pancetta or good thick-cut smoky bacon, cut into 1/8-inch squares
1/4 whole-wheat plowman’s loaf (or any soft loaf), cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt
Sweet paprika
1 head romaine lettuce, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces, washed and well dried
1 tablespoon plain full-fat (10% or higher) Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon well-crumbled feta cheese plus 1 teaspoon feta brine (optional)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for croutons
4 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar (if using the latter, add drizzle of liquid honey)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large clove garlic, or 2 smaller cloves, minced
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
1/2 lemon cut into wedges

PREHEAT your oven to 400°F.

IN A FRYING PAN over medium heat, fry pancetta until crispy and crunchy. Transfer to a plate lined in paper towel and set aside.

SPREAD bread cubes evenly over a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Toss until evenly coated, then dust lightly with paprika. Bake in
preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until just toasted on the outside and getting harder on the inside but not completely dried out. Remove pan from oven and set aside, uncovered.

PLACE LETTUCE in a large bowl and set aside.

IN A JAR OR BOWL, combine yogurt, feta and its brine (if using), olive oil, vinegar, honey (if using), mustard, and minced garlic. Shake or whisk until
creamy. Taste and adjust as you see fit.

TO SERVE, toss dressing and pancetta with lettuce until the leaves are well coated. Drop in croutons and finish with finely grated Parmesan and lemon wedges.

Recipes from Steak Revolution by Rob Firing ©2018. Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Nada’s Tips & Tricks:
My family is crazy about Caesar salad and their response to this recipe: tastes like one you would get in a restaurant…so if you want to impress your family or guests with a great Caesar recipe – this is the one! The feta brine and Greek yogurt makes the difference – also, no anchovy fish or paste for the dressing. I used whole wheat Italian bread for the croutons – you can use any leftover ends of bread hanging around. My grandkids love homemade croutons and they’re so easy to make (a little splash of olive oil and salt/seasoning and bake for a few minutes – voila!)