Last updated January 2, 2015
Creamy 1-point dressing full of flavor, zing and cheese.
This weekend I experimented in the kitchen trying to make the perfect low-calorie Caesar dressing.
I love Caesar salads. They’re so simple ~ just romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese and croutons topped with a zesty, garlicy dressing.
But with that dressing comes lots of calories. Look at the label on the side of the bottle. In full-fat dressings, the first ingredient is usually oil.
Once the calories start to shed off the label, oil slides down the list and is replaced with water. The sugar ingredient quickly becomes high fructose corn syrup, and real milk or buttermilk is replaced with whey, a milk by-product.
So now picture this: You’ve decided to go on a diet. You don’t really like lettuce, but you know in order to lose weight, you’ve got to put aside the burgers and turn to some flavorless, leafy greens.
A little restaurant-style Caesar dressing would make those greens taste good, but that means you’re looking at 150 calories for two tablespoons. You could eat a McDonald’s hash brown for 150 calories, but you’re trying to be good, so you stick to the salad and replace the full-fat dressing with reduced calorie or fat free dressing.
Awesome. Now you have a bowl of flavorless, leafy greens topped with water, corn syrup and whey. And you wonder why it’s hard to stick to this diet?
This recipe is for a low calorie Caesar dressing. Caesar dressing can easily be 150 calories and up for two tablespoons. This recipe, however, is only 25 calories per serving.
Caesar dressing dates back to … wait for it … not Julius Caesar. Nope, he wasn’t sitting around in his toga in 49 BC eating his veggies topped with this dressing. It wasn’t created until the 1920s.
Caesar Cardini, an Italian restaurateur living in San Diego, is credited with creating the recipe in his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico.
It was made with fresh eggs, Parmesan, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.
Over the years, the recipe has shifted, so I take no shame in altering it myself.
First off, I’m not comfortable eating raw egg unless it is fresh from the farm. Fortunately, we have an easy substitute for that. Right next to the eggs in the grocery, you can find pasteurized raw eggs in the carton.
I do use Parmesan cheese. That, to me, is the foundation of the bitter, saltiness that Caesar dressing is all about. Garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce have virtually zero calories, so that leaves one more full-fat ingredient to conquer – the olive oil.
When you emulsify olive oil and eggs, you get mayonnaise, which is what makes Caesar so creamy. But wait, don’t go there. If you use fat-free mayo, you might as well just buy the fat-free dressing.
My favorite option for a creamy, full flavor substitute is Greek yogurt. The first time I had Greek yogurt was at a bed and breakfast outside of Amsterdam.
An English innkeeper with a magic culinary touch prepared coddled eggs and served them alongside a bowl of Greek yogurt and fresh fruit and pastries.
Over the past year, Greek yogurt has become more common in the states. My favorite brand, the brand I had in Amsterdam is Fage (pronounced fa-yay).
It has a nice richness. Don’t expect it to taste like strawberry Yoplait. It’s thick and plain. But if you take the thought of sugar, food dye and berry extracts out of your mind, and you really focus on the flavor of what’s in the cup, you’ll taste the creaminess of cultured milk. It’s so smooth and so satisfying. And even better, it’s full of protein.
So when making my 25-cal Caesar dressing, I swapped the standard olive oil with Greek yogurt.
The result: instead of 150 calories, 16 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbs and 1 gram of protein, this recipe only has 25 calories, .5 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbs and 3.5 grams of protein. That’s one Weight Watcher’s point instead of four.
But I promise you, despite the fact that this is so low-cal, it really does taste good. I don’t waste calories on food that doesn’t.
- 8 ozs. Fage 0% Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons Egg Beaters
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1 tsp. chopped garlic, packed in oil
- 1 ½ tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.
Serve over romaine lettuce with grated Parmesan cheese and croutons.