I feel like the classic Caesar salad has been neglected in recent years for swankier, more complicated salads with kale, figs, pancetta, goat cheese, and a million other fancy ingredients. I’m not complaining or anything, because I adore a four-star salad packed with only the best ingredients, but every once in a while, I crave a classic. Something simple I can whip in just a few minutes, with a little bit of lettuce, and only the contents in my fridge.
I would guess I break out the Caesar salad as a side about once week, except this time, instead of making it an afterthought to our meal, I decided to make it the main feature by adding a ton of blackened chicken to the mix, and nestling the entire thing on a hot, pizza base covered in gooey mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Because if there’s anything that can make salad a meal, for us, it’s bread and cheese.
The base is simple; store-bought pizza dough (from Trader Joe’s), is halved, rolled out, and brushed with olive oil and a generous hand of salt and pepper. Next, it’s covered in shredded mozzarella cheese, and sprinkled with a little bit of freshly grated parmesan. For me, when making a pizza, a pizza stone is an absolute necessity, because it’s the only thing that can mimic a restaurant-quality pie without a $5,000 pizza oven. The trick is to heat the pizza stone in screaming hot oven for at least 15 minutes, and then to use a pizza wheel covered in flour or cornmeal to transfer the dough seamlessly on to the stone.
While the pizza cooks, the chicken gets covered in a spice mix of paprika, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and cayenne pepper and then gets seared in a hot skillet until the flesh is almost charred and the inside is cooked through.
As the chicken cools, and the pizza finishes up, a quick homemade Caesar dressing is thrown together with a little bit of light mayo, lemon juice, fresh garlic, salt, Worcestershire sauce and parmesan cheese. The dressing is tossed with some chopped romaine lettuce, more parmesan cheese, and fresh croutons. Of course, if you stopped here, this would be the perfect salad, but since this is our main meal, the chicken gets tossed in as well, and then all of it is evenly divided between the two cheese pizzas.
I cover it with even more parmesan cheese, cut it into pieces, and then dive in directly on the pizza wheel.
- 1 lb pizza dough
- 1½ Tlbs.+ 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided, plus more for garnish
- ½ cup diced leftover white bread of your choice (I used a leftover French roll)
- 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 2 Tlbs. light mayo
- 1 Tlbs. lemon juice
- ½ tsp. worcestershire sauce
- ¼ tsp. anchovy paste (optional)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- ½ cup chopped tomatoes
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp. oregano
- ¼ tsp. salt
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put pizza stone in oven. Let heat for at least 15 minutes.
- Divide dough in two even pieces. Roll dough out into two oval or rectangular shapes. (Or whatever shape you choose) Transfer dough to a heavily floured pizza wheel. Brush each pizza with one teaspoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Cover pizzas evenly in mozzarella cheese. Slide pizzas on to pizza stone and bake until golden brown and crust is crisp, about 10-12 minutes.
- Toss the bread with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven with the pizza and bake until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. (I set them directly on the pizza stone, but you can also use a small baking sheet.) Remove and set aside.
- Cut chicken breast lengthwise, so you have two thinly sliced pieces. Sprinkle both sides of chicken pieces evenly with blackening seasoning. Heat remaining olive oil in a non-stick skillet over a medium-high heat. Cook chicken until blackened on both sides and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside and cool for a few minutes. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together, mayo, lemon juice, worcestershire, anchovy paste, salt and garlic. Add lettuce, croutons, and tomatoes, toss until combined. Season with salt and pepper. At the last minute, toss the chicken in, as well as the remaining parmesan cheese.
- Once the pizza comes out, top it evenly with the salad, then sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese. Cut into six pieces per pizza.