It’s a rare move when I swap out ingredients in order to preserve calories. My philosophy, after years of learning through mistakes, has become quality over quantity. It’s actually become somewhat of a motto for my husband and myself becoming a daily practice in the kitchen and beyond (I find it particularly helpful in the closet as well).

I’d much rather eat a smaller portion of a bittersweet chocolate made liquid by the addition of hot cream and then served with more cream than a large amount of a less flavorful dessert containing ingredients that read “non-fat”. It has been my experience that I walk away from a few bites of something decadent and rich feeling very satisfied and quite okay by the fact that I left a good portion of it untouched or saved for someone else.

But what is really glorious is when you lighten a normally hefty meal without surrender the flavor or overall satisfaction. This salad has done such a marvelous thing.

It’s in these cool, gray months that my body yearns for food to comfort. Ones laden with cream and butter comfort me nicely particularly around the mid-section but there are times when I must resist such urges. With comfort food in mind I was set on a classic caesar. Slightly spicy, salty from a touch of briny anchovy and of course, creamy.

Where I would normally reach for oil and egg yolk to work the ingredients into an emulsion I grabbed greek yogurt – a very popular ingredient in our house as of late. The idea was to just replace some of the oil with the yogurt but when I tasted the mix of lemon, anchovy, garlic, dijon, parmesan, and yogurt I found no need for the oil. What I did find was a near replica of a classic caesar dressing without the addition of any rich oils or fats.

I did however top mine with a few nice slices of seared tenderloin (quality over quantity) and sat down to one of the best lunches I’ve had in quite some time.



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A Lighter Casear

A Lighter Caeser

This is a very forgiving recipe. Taste and adjust as you please, I promise I won’t be offended. Just remember that you want the dressing to taste strong as the romaine will tame its flavor. Top with slow-roasted tomatoes, shavings of Parmesan, roasted chicken, or steak for a complete and healthful lunch or dinner.

1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 teaspoons dijon
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
2 Tbl finely grated parmesan


In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Carefully combine with fresh, chopped romaine. Serve with shavings of Parmesan.

Keeps in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for one week.

34 Responses to “Dinner in 15: a lighter caesar”

  1. Anna @ the shady pine

    Ligtening a meal or dish without losing flavour is a real motivator for me when cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I will try just about anything but if I can make something more nutritious or lighter without any side effects then why not.

    This salad looks so delicious…perfect for my lunch!

  2. la domestique

    Greek yogurt is an excellent base for salad dressing, and I love the idea for topping the caesar salad with seared beef tenderloin. Simple and good.

  3. Deva @ Deva by Definition

    This sounds divine. I love the idea of replacing oil with yogurt – without sacrificing flavor. That’s such a big must for me. I’d rather enjoy rich, real food over flavorless food any day, and if it tastes rich and isn’t? Even better.

  4. Valeria

    I couldn’t agree more on the quality over quantity (as a general principle that should be applied even more carefully when it comes to meat) . I appreciate small pleasures and never have cravings for strange things. It works for me as well. I like your caesar and I will surely replicate your dressing. Tasty and light is a the best combination.

  5. Tracy

    I really have begun to live the “quality over quantity” philosophy! I’m not sure why it took me so long. In any case – your dinner caesar looks delicious!

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Tracy – It took me far too long also and I don’t always stick to it but I find when I do it makes so much more sense. Things last longer (closet and around the house) and I’m so much more satisfied. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  6. SallyBR

    Lovely! I use Greek yogurt, lemon juice and mustard as my salad dressing 90% of the time, because I love the taste. Had never thought about adapting it to a Caesar motif, but it is brilliant! I am trying this and will report back when I do…

    (Quality over quantity works in soooo many levels, it’s always nice to be reminded of it 😉

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      SallyBR – That’s great, just add the anchovy and Parmesan and you’re there. My mind is spinning with the possibilities – a yogurt based ranch and blue cheese perhaps?

  7. Bethel

    You just solved my salad debacle! I’ve started premaking salads in a mason jar. It’s cute, simple, and always on had so I won’t have an excuse to eat out when I’m super busy. My problem is that I’m so tired of my usual homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Currently adding anchovy paste to my grocery list. Do you recommend a particular brand?

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Bethel – I love that! I’ve seen those salads in jars and I’m quite intrigued. The brand that I’m currently using is Napolean and I like it. Easier to have that on hand than mincing up anchovies. I find myself adding it to a lot of things as it adds a rich depth – unami, if you will. 🙂

  8. wmbg

    i looooooove caesar salad. never imagined i could make it easily from scratch at home…and in a healthy way. totes inspired!

  9. The Cozy Apron

    It’s great to see that I’m not the only one that plays around with dressings in an effort to make them a bit lower in fat! I’ve used a touch of light sour cream (similar to Greek yogurt) along with lots of lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and parmesan. Truly enjoying your site and your lovely photography! Thank you…

  10. Bethel

    Thanks for the brand suggestion. I couldn’t find anchovy paste at the store today, but that’s probably because I do my grocery shopping at the Navy Commissary in Marysville, WA. I might just have to hunt for some anchovy paste locally. And the salad in a jar is great–very convenient. I saw it on pinterest and gave it a shot. I have yet to purchase a food saver to draw the air out for prolonging freshness, but I’ve found that I can 3-4 ahead of time and still have fresh salads.

  11. Ilke

    I substitute thick yogurt anywhere mayo or sour cream is called for in the recipes. Great way to cut the calories and that is what I am used to from my Turkish heritage as well. A good scoop of yogurt goes well with many dishes. Have to try the caesar with your dressing because we dont touch it much due to the calories/

  12. ayshela

    I am so horribly horribly allergic to all sorts of seafood (they say it’s an iodine thing? I don’t know, but it’s horrible)… is there any way to do a decent caesar salad without it? Is there a reasonable substitute, or would it just be omitting that and losing a layer of flavour?

  13. Heather

    Thank you, this looks lovely and I am looking forward to trying it. I actually have never tried making Caesar salad before because of the high calories.

  14. Mairi @ Toast

    Beautiful! Completely agree about quality over quantity 🙂 But this is fantastic what’s not to love when you can keep all the flavour but lose a few of the calories?

  15. Boone

    We’re trying out this caesar recipe tonight for dinner. Thanks Ashley. Looking forward to hearing about the Netherlands and seeing you Gabe and the kids (hopefully soon)!

  16. Kristel

    Considering how many of your recipes I’ve made within 48 hrs of your posting them, I’m ashamed to say I only made this for the first time last night. I don’t know what took me so long!!!


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