dinner lunch

Lighted Up Caesar with Crispy Chickpea “Croutons”

Caesar “not really a salad” salad gets a healthy makeover courtesy of an olive oil based dressing & crispy chickpea “croutons”

I am declaring this week lemon week, the first of our themed weeks, and staring it with a healthy Caesar makeover courtesy of an olive oil based dressing & crispy chickpea “croutons.” Oh, and a little birdie told me to save some dressing for my next post.

The obvious question, for those of you who don’t already follow me on Instagram (which you should for behind the scenes tips and posts!), is why lemon week? Well my friends, when life gives you lemons, make really delicious food. And I have a feeling with everything going on, quite a few of us have been given some lemons lately…

Which brings us full circle back to recipe #1 of lemon week: the lightened up caesar. No, this is not an oxymoron. Caesar no longer needs to be relegated to the “non-salad salad,” but can claim its rightful place on this healthy food blog by preparing following the below-


For the dressing (makes extra)-

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice*
  • 1.5 tsp anchovy paste**
  • 1 tsp Dijon
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional- pinch of sugar/ agave/honey (if needed)

For the chickpeas (serves 2)-

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 tbs cooking oil (I used avocado)
  • 1/2 tsp of each spice: paprika, cumin, oregano (or whatever spice blend you want/have)
  • Salt & pepper

For the rest-

  • Your preferred greens! I did half romaine and half baby kale
  • Optional- dusting of parmesan

Ingredient notes:

* For me, I got about 2 tbs of juice per large lemon (this mini, measuring citrus juicer changed my life for $6 and enabled me to tell you that)

** Or 2 anchovy fillets. Use kalamata olives if vegetarian.


  1. Start with your chickpeas. Preheat oven to 400F. Rise and drain chickpeas, then toss in oil, salt, pepper, and spices. Roast for 40 min, flipping halfway through.
  2. While they’re roasting, combine all your dressing ingredients and whisk together. This will make extra dressing, which you’ll use again for Wednesday’s post and will stay in fridge for ~1 week!
  3. Combine greens, finished chickpeas, and dressing. Dust with parm if so inclined. Enjoy!

What am I listening to as I make this?Paper Cup” by Real Estate

What can I learn while I make this? Another complex origin story (any penne alla vodka deja vu?). Caesar salad was invented in Mexico (I know!). Specifically, Tijuana. Its most commonly agreed upon origin is 4th of July 1924 when Cesare Cardini, an Italian immigrant, improvised a salad with ingredients on hand in his restaurant on a very unexpectedly busy day. Sounds straightforward, no? No. Most disputes are around if Cesare, his brother, or an employee created the salad, and whether in a restaurant or party. In any case, the salad took off and the family moved to Los Angeles, California where they patented the dressing in the 1940s. You can find it bottled in stores to this day, and his restaurant still exists in Tijuana.

What if I want a salad but not this one? Don’t worry, I won’t be offended. Check out a few more below:

Want more Carmel Kama’aina content? Follow me on Instagram. All my latest recipes, poems, and behind the scenes tricks are published first on Instagram. Sneak a peek below:


One reply on “Lighted Up Caesar with Crispy Chickpea “Croutons””

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s