This Lighter Chicken Caesar Salad with Grilled Croutons Embodies a Local, Fresh Summer

We spent Mother’s Day a little differently this year. My family and I spent the evening at a local farm planting 150 herb seedlings. It felt good to dig in the earth, watch the warm sun set over the vast Kansas prairie, and spend some truly quality time with my husband and daughter.

grilled chicken caesar salad
We left MG Honor Farms with a promise to return and lend our hands to the tomato harvest, and with a lot of fresh greens and veggies. Clint Brauer built the farm on his late grandmother’s land as an homage to her memory. As well, to serve the people of our community, saying, “MGHonor Farms was created to help those who have realized their true priorities, have an option to purchase healthy food for themselves and their families without any herbicides and only organically certified pesticides.”

Every community deserves a resource like this.

kale and greens
The next evening we enjoyed the fresh spring greens and crisp kale in a salad that paid us well for our hard work the night before and reminded us of a promise to enjoy this summer more than any other. Escaping from the confines of winter, a big entree salad that is light and satisfying always feels so refreshing on these warmer days. That’s exactly what we made.

I whipped up a creamy Caesar dressing that was fresh and tangy with just enough of a bite from the garlic cloves. People balk at the thought of making their own dressing, but I swear it’s worth the brief couple of minutes it takes.

greek yogurt caesar

Plain Greek yogurt with Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, garlic cloves, Kosher salt, and hand-squeezed lemon juice were ingredients I already had available and moments later became a restaurant-worthy Caesar salad dressing. You’ll note I left out the anchovies out of personal preference, but you’re welcome to add them if you like.

greek yogurt caesar dressing

No Caesar salad is complete without big crunchy croutons. Of course, the boxed version is fine, but in keeping with the homemade salad I decided to make my own. Again, no balking. This takes no extra time. In fact, slice thick slices from a whole wheat baguette, mist with cooking spray, and place on a hot grill while the chicken is cooking. Then, just use a bread knife to cut in to cubes. The smokey flavor adds exceptional taste to the salad.

homemade croutons

Once the chicken was grilled, sourced from a local Amish butcher shop, it was sliced thinly and laid across the top of the spring greens and kale mix. The salad was topped with croutons, a few thick Parmesan curls, and drizzled with the homemade Caesar dressing.

grilled chicken caesar salad

Voila! The only thing we couldn’t pick up from the farm was our favorite bottle of crisp pinot gris that was the perfect complement to finish this meal.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad with Grilled Croutonschicken caesar
serves 2; 384 calories

4 oz. plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp. skim milk
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper
3 cups spring greens
1 cup kale
1 chicken breast, grilled
2 slices baguette bread

1. For Dressing, combine yogurt through salt and pepper in a blender and puree until well combined. Add or reduce milk for desired thickness.

2. Slice two pieces of 1″ thick baguette and mist both sides with cooking spray. Place on med-high grill and toast each side about 2 minutes each. Watch closely. You can grill the chicken breast simultaneously.

3. After grilling, use a bread knife to cut the baguette into cubes. Then, slice the chicken thinly.

4. Toss the dressing with the greens and kale, then top with sliced grilled chicken and croutons. Add more parmesan curls if desired.

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Recipe by Brandi Koskie; photos by Kacy Meinecke

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