Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gluten Free Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Ceasar Salad

Not too long ago I was sitting in Hobbs Coffee Shop in Swarthmore, PA, working on dissertation revisions and feeling hungry and over-caffeinated.  There wasn't much on the menu that was naturally gluten free, but they were having a lunch special on Chicken Caesar Salad that looked good.  I told them about my gluten-issues and they assured me that their dressing was home-made and gluten free, and that they'd simply omit the croutons.  The Romaine was served whole, but cut in half.  I loved it!  I had never eaten a salad like that before and found it fun to cut into it like a big piece of meat:)

As I was munching away I thought to myself, "I bet I can make it even better at home."  And so I did.  This version gets an extra kick from sun-dried tomatoes and a healthy dose of Parmesan cheese and grated black peppercorns.  To add some smokey undertones, I used my gas-burning stove top to slightly char the halved Romaine.  You can seriously come up with a hundred alternate versions of this one.  Just think about all the different meats, seafood, cheeses, and vegetarian combinations:)

Make sure you completely rinse out your Romaine to get any bits of soil out (or bugs for that matter).  You'll also want to shake the heads out a bit before you halve them.  You don't want your salad being too wet and runny.

I made my croutons from the two end pieces of an Udi's gluten free bread loaf I had.  All I did was toast them up and cut them into small squares.

  • As many halved heads of Romaine lettuce as you need (1 half per person)
  • 1 small jar of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (any brand = whatever is on sale)
  • Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1-2 pounds of skinless/boneless chicken (chopped)
  • Gluten Free Caesar dressing (I used Ken's Light Options Caesar Dressing - because it said "Gluten Free" on the back )
  • Fresh Ground Pepper

  1. Rinse out your heads of lettuce.  Shake the water out of them and cut them in half; so that both halves are held together by the root.
  2. Chop up your chicken.
  3. Toast and then dice up some gluten free bread.
  4. Drain the olive oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes into a deep pan.
  5. Chop up the sun-dried tomatoes.
  6. Heat your oil over med-high heat and add the chicken when the oil is hotCook the chicken, stirring occasionally, until no pink remains.
  7. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and reduce to medium heat.  Stir often, and cook until the chicken is slightly browned.
  8. Using either a skillet or an open gas-stove top flame, and a pair of tongs, slightly char the inside of each halved Romaine head.
  9. Place each halved Romaine head on its own large plate.  First top with a generous portion of the chicken/sun-dried tomato mixture, then lightly cover the whole head with grated Parmesan cheese, grate some fresh-pepper over everything, throw on the GF croutons, and then drizzle your Caesar dressing over the top.
  10. Chow down and thank me silently in your head:)