With warmer weather in the air and summer on the way, all I want to do is break out of my office and run for the sunny hills. I have the itch to get outside as much as possible so I can soak up the rays I missed so desperately all winter.
I think this warmer weather means eating outside at every opportunity is a must. But what is the best menu for alfresco dining? Outdoor dining calls for the freshest food you can find – and I’m craving seafood and salads.
Caesar salads, in particular, are perfect for warm-weather dining, especially when topped with fresh seafood. Try kale as a substitute for everyday lettuce, though you can use whatever leafy green you prefer. You can read more about different substitution options in our Guide to the Types of Lettuce. Then, learn more about How to Clean and Store Lettuce.
Grocery stores always have kale, but unlike the winter months, where slow cooking it with ham hocks and spices feels most comforting, I like to make salads that show off the bright green color and freshness of the healthful veggie. I like to buy my kale locally from the farmers market because it’s less expensive and a fun family outing. If you aren’t feeling ready to jump into shopping the farmers market, you should read our tips to help you navigate them like a pro.
Shredding the kale is the best way to prepare it for salads because it’s much easier than chopping it by hand and the thinner strips of kale actually make it more tender. This simple method is easy and quick to prepare using the slicing blade in the food processor.
Tangy Caesar dressing is quick and easy to make in a small personal blender. Anchovies, garlic, lemon and Dijon mustard add a subtle but substantial kick to this classic dressing. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ve seen us use this same Caesar dressing on our grilled Caesar salad.
We especially like it on this version because the combination with the kale gives the whole salad a little more substance. Pat is always saying how there’s not enough “stuff” in her Caesar salad. This one feels more substantial because the kale is a little heavier and the salmon is nice and rich.
Speaking of the salmon, we found a gorgeous filet of Alaskan salmon, which was seasoned with salt, then brushed with a little bit of Caesar dressing before grilling. Grill the salmon on top first to get perfect grill marks, then flip it over and grill it on the skin until it’s cooked through. Add some fresh parmesan cheese and croutons, and you’ll have a perfectly filling lunch or dinner that seems made for a spring alfresco meal.
Pair your mouthwatering Caesar salad and grilled salmon with white wine, sparkling water with fresh juice or a refreshing berry cocktail. If you plan on hosting, add an appetizer and a dessert for an appetizing alfresco menu – it’ll be perfect for the spring and summer months when everyone wants to spend more time eating next to the grill on patios and porches.
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