Friday July 26, 2013

This crazy weather has me grillin' one day and baking another. The other day it was in the 90s and "wicked" humid. So guess what? It was too hot and humid to grill outside and too hot and humid to bake inside. So cold food was on the menu. Again, as I have said a few times in the past, do not let the ingredient list fool you. This is inexpensive and quite easy to prepare actually.

Caesar-Style Potato Salad

You can serve this with or without the added dressing. But I must say, the creamy Yogurt Caesar is what topped this side dish off with that perfect "bite". The crunch and acid from the wilted lettuce was the perfect accompaniment as well.

[Creamy Yogurt Caesar Dressing, recipe below]

2 pounds potatoes, boiled, peeled and cubed

1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

61/4 cup cider vinegar

6 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and chopped

6 ounces frozen peas, thawed

1 rib celery, minced

2 teaspoons prepared, stone ground or Dijon-style mustard

3 strips turkey or pork bacon, cooked and crumbled

Salt and black pepper to taste

Nonstick cooking spray

1 head romaine lettuce, shredded

3 green onions, sliced thin

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Make Caesar Dressing, keep refrigerated until needed. In a large bowl, combine the cooked, cubed potatoes, mayonnaise, chopped eggs, cider vinegar, peas, celery, mustard and bacon. Stir and combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Spray a large skillet liberally with nonstick cooking spray. Place over high heat. When pan is hot, add the lettuce, onions and black pepper. Constantly stirring, cook lettuce until just barely wilted and hot. Remove from heat. Mound potato salad evenly among dishes, top with wilted lettuce and drizzle Creamy yogurt Caesar Dressing on top if desired. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Creamy Yogurt Caesar Dressing

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic in oil

2 anchovy fillets, optional

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

Put all dressing ingredients in the bowl of a blender or food processor and pulse until creamy and blended, about 20 seconds. Remove, transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate. This makes close to a cup.

Chef Jim Baley -- The Yankee Chef -- is a noted food columnist, cookbook author and the foremost New England Food Historian. He is a third generation chef and historian and lives in Maine with his wife and four children. He welcomes feedback at theyankeechef@aol.com.