Red Chile Caesar Salad

I first learned to make this salad after visiting the Santa Fe Cooking School.  This version uses a traditional Caesar dressing with the addition of red chile powder.  I use New Mexican chile powder that’s not too spicy hot.  My favorite part of this salad is the croutons, which are sprinkled with chile powder before baking.  I like to use a rustic loaf of bread with the crust removed, then I tear it into big chunks for the croutons.  Be sure to make extra because you’ll be snacking on them all day!

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Main Ingredients

Red Chili Caesar Salad:

Inner leaves of 3 to 4 heads of red or green Romaine lettuce
1 cup Red Chile Caesar dressing
Chile-Garlic Croutons
1/3 cup shaved parmesan cheese

Dressing:

1 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. dry mustard
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 eggs
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 to 3 tbsp. ground red chile
1 cup olive oil

Croutons:

3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
10 to 12 slices good French bread or Italian bread, sliced 1/2 “ thick and cut into ½ inch cubes (or torn into pieces)
2 tsp. mild ground red chile
Salt to taste

Method:

For dressing, place all ingredients except for the oil in a food processor (or blender).  While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

For croutons, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl mix together the garlic and the olive oil.  Place the bread cubes in a medium bowl and drizzle the garlic-oil mixture over the bread.  Toss to combine well. 

Sprinkle the ground red chile and the salt over the bread cubes and toss to thoroughly coat. 

Spread the seasoned croutons on a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until crisp and golden.

SaladsIzza Wei-Haas