Caesar Salad Pizza

by Susan on May 5, 2016

I have been told by my husband that salad pizza is ridiculous. A waste of a good pizza, and it certainly does not qualify as a “real” pizza if you top your crust off with greens. He was skeptical about tonight’s dinner, but was willing to give it a whirl. This shall ever be known as the salad pizza that turned him into a believer in the concept.

The key here is the homemade caesar dressing, which has just the right amount of tang. You could certainly use bottled in a pinch, but it’s so worth the extra minute to whir it up fresh! I *did* save time by using shredded rotisserie chicken, so this one came together in a flash.

Caesar just isn’t the same without fresh Parmesan, so I wouldn’t really recommend trying to go dairy-free here. I’ve had various salad pizzas without cheese and it just doesn’t work that well (in my opinion). It’s easy to make this gluten-free, though, with the appropriate pre-made or homemade crust.

Caesar Salad Pizza
adapted from Food Network

pizza dough of choice
olive oil, for drizzling
8 oz. mozzarella, sliced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus small chunk for shaving
1 chicken breast, grilled or roasted and sliced thinly
2 romaine hearts, washed and dried, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup caesar salad dressing (recipe below)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450.

Roll out pizza dough on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and spread mozzarella in an even layer on top. Bake for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and top with the chicken. Toss lettuce with caesar dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter salad on top of crust and top with some shaved pieces of Parmesan.

caesar salad dressing:
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup vegan or organic mayonnaise
juice of one small lemon
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 tsp. anchovy paste

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until emulsified.

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In the grand scheme of things, Panera is a healthier option when it comes to fast food. I usually split the “you pick two” option with my daughter, with each of us getting a salad. While their salads boast clean ingredients like quinoa and kale, the dressings aren’t as virtuous. My homemade version of the popular fuji apple chicken salad ditches the soybean oil and sugar in the dressing, and was super easy to throw together.

I used shredded rotisserie chicken, but in the summer I’d love to grill up some chicken for this one. While you could skip the candied pecans, they don’t take long to make and are insanely delicious. For the dressing I happened to have some apple balsamic vinegar, but either apple cider vinegar or regular balsamic would work great.

As written my adaptation of this popular salad is gluten, grain and refined sugar-free.

Panera-Inspired Fuji Apple Chicken Salad

2 cooked chicken breasts
1 (10 oz.) bag mixed greens
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup freeze-dried apple or apple chips
1/2 cup glazed pecans (recipe below)
1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 diced roma tomatoes
dressing (recipe below)

Toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing and gently toss.

skillet candied pecans:
1 tbs. coconut oil
1 tbs. maple syrup
splash of vanilla extract
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup raw pecans
salt & pepper, to taste

Melt coconut oil in a skillet over low heat. Add maple syrup, vanilla and cayenne. Bring to a bubble.

Stir in nuts, tossing to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often to ensure even cooking.

Remove from heat and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer on a piece of parchment paper until cool.

dressing:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or apple balsamic vinegar
2 tbs. raw honey or maple syrup
salt, pepper & garlic powder, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a sealable bottle or jar. Shake until well-blended.

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