Spicy Caesar Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs Recipe | Pamela Salzman & Recipes Skip to content

Spicy Caesar Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs Recipe

If you’ve been to Jon & Vinny’s in LA, you may recognize this salad which they call Gem Lettuce, Calabrian Chili Dressing, Parmigiano, & Bread Crumbs.   It’s basically a spicy Caesar salad with the most delicious breadcrumbs and baby romaine leaves.  It’s insanely good and worth every bit of the $16.50 they charge for one portion.  Or is it?  Well, we can make it at home and it’s just as good, friends!  I make it all the time when I have people over or we want a really great Caesar. Ok, let’s do it!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Super easy and quick recipe;
  • Components can be prepped days in advance;
  • Breadcrumbs on a Caesar are WAY better than croutons!
  • The dressing is as spicy as you want it to be;
  • It’s an entertaining favorite! 

Spicy Caesar Salad Ingredients

  • Mayonnaise: is what makes this dressing creamy. I prefer using a soy-free Vegenaise, but feel free to use a good quality mayonnaise. 
  • Lemon juice: you’ll need about half a lemon. 
  • Garlic: A key ingredient in Caesar dressing and adds much-needed bite. I prefer to peel my own garlic and store it in a glass jar in the fridge. It lasts at least a week. 
  • Dijon mustard: I love adding this to dressings. It adds a nice creaminess and flavor. 
  • Worcestershire sauce: one of the unexpected ingredients in Worcestershire sauce is anchovies. Be sure to read the ingredient label and opt for a vegan one if needed. 
  • Capers: add a nice brininess. You can also use anchovy paste as an alternative. 
  • Calabrian chiles: are the star ingredient in this recipe to give it that spiciness. Feel free to use your favorite hot sauce instead.  
  • Olive oil: use a good quality olive oil for best flavor. 
  • Butter: I like using unsalted butter to toast the breadcrumbs, but you can also use plant butter or all olive oil. 
  • Breadcrumbs: I prefer using panko breadcrumbs in this recipe. Look for gluten-free breadcrumbs if necessary. 
  • Garlic powder: adds a nice garlic flavor without being overpowering. 
  • Lettuce: I recommend using a sturdy lettuce for creamy dressings like this one. You can use romaine lettuce or baby gem. 
  • Parmesan cheese: I’m in love with the Parmesan wedge from Costco. It lasts for a while in the fridge and it’s the real deal for much less than the grocery store. You can easily grate it with a large microplane. Feel free to use a plant-based Parmesan instead. 

How to Make Spicy Caesar Salad

  1. In a blender, process all dressing ingredients until smooth. Taste for heat and salt and adjust accordingly. Set aside. Dressing will hold up in the fridge for up to one week.
  2. In a large skillet, over medium-low heat, add the butter and the oil. Once the butter is melted, add the breadcrumbs and stir until golden, about 4-5 minutes. Don’t leave the stove. The breadcrumbs can burn easily! Stir in the garlic powder and taste for salt. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a paper towel-lined plate. Once cool, breadcrumbs can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  3. Place the lettuce in a bowl or platter and toss with enough dressing to coat lightly. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and then the cheese. Serve any extra dressing on the side.

Tips for Making Spicy Caesar Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs

  • Make sure to stir the breadcrumbs frequently when toasting in the skillet. They can go from golden to burned in a matter of seconds. I like to transfer them to a paper lined plate to absorb any excess fat. They will crisp up as they cool. Breadcrumbs can be made a few days in advance and stored in a sealed container when completely cool. 
  • I prefer to toss the lettuce with the dressing in a large mixing bowl so that every leaf gets evenly coated and then transfer to a serving dish for a prettier presentation.
  • This is a great basic recipe to which you can add things like smashed green Castelvetrano olives, whole anchovies packed in oil, grilled salmon or chicken or tofu, jarred roasted tomatoes, roasted artichoke quarters….

Substitutions for Spicy Caesar Salad

  • Calabrian chiles – use your favorite hot sauce if you can’t find these. 
  • Panko breadcrumbs – look for gluten-free if necessary
  • Parmesan cheese – use a plant-based Parmesan, nutritional yeast, or omit
  • Capers – anchovies

If you give this recipe a try, snap a pic and tag @pamelasalzman so I can see your beautiful creations. I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review! Lastly, subscribe for free to my site for the latest recipes and updates.

For more delicious recipes and to learn how to be a better cook, check out my monthly online cooking classes. I have been teaching people for 15 years how to cook healthy food that their families love!  Join me!

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spicy Caesar Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • Dressing: 6 Tablespoons Vegenaise (I like soy-free) or good quality mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon capers, drained from brine or anchovy paste
  • 1-2 teaspoons chopped Calabrian chiles or hot sauce (or to taste)
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed
  • ___________________________________________________
  • Breadcrumbs:
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or plant butter
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (you can find gluten-free crumbs if necessary)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Sea salt as needed, depending on how salty the breadcrumbs are
  • 3 heads of Little Gem lettuce, leaves separated and left whole or 1 large head of romaine lettuce, washed, dried and chopped into bite size pieces
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese or plant-based Parmesan (I do this with my large microplane.)
Instructions
  1. In a blender, process all dressing ingredients until smooth. Taste for heat and salt and adjust accordingly. Set aside. Dressing will hold up in the fridge for up to one week.
  2. In a large skillet, over medium-low heat, add the butter and the oil. Once the butter is melted, add the breadcrumbs and stir until golden, about 4-5 minutes. Don’t leave the stove. The breadcrumbs can burn easily! Stir in the garlic powder and taste for salt. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a paper towel-lined plate. Once cool, breadcrumbs can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  3. Place the lettuce in a bowl or platter and toss with enough dressing to coat lightly. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and then the cheese. Serve any extra dressing on the side.
Notes
This is a great basic recipe to which you can add things like smashed green Castelvetrano olives, whole anchovies packed in oil, grilled salmon or chicken or tofu, jarred roasted tomatoes, roasted artichoke quarters….

 

 

Related Recipes

Comments

2 Comments

  1. So excited to try, one of my favorites and J&V but not the $16.50 price. 🙂

    • You’re going to love this homemade version!


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Rate this recipe:  

Signup to receive updates about new recipes and more

I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

kitchen-matters-buy-book
Buy on Amazon
quicker-than-quick
Buy on Amazon