Roasted Black Pepper Caesar Salad with Pancetta


This Caesar salad with freshly roasted and cracked black pepper, pancetta, and homemade croutons starts a meal off right.  It can also be a delicious meal on its own!

Roasted Black Pepper Caesar Salad with Pancetta

Happy New Year!! I hope you had a good start to 2016! Did you start it off with a bang? Or are you like us and ushered in the new year more low-keyed? My husband and I celebrated it at home with a couple of good friends, good food, refreshing libations, and movies. We stayed warm, dry, and well was had by all. Our female friend, who shall remain nameless, clearly had a little too much to drink. The dead giveaway was when she spent the latter part of the night calling me by the wrong name. I am sure she has no recollection of doing so. That's okay my friend who I shall not be named, I still love you! 

Roasted Black Pepper Caesar Salad with Pancetta

Roasted Black Pepper Caesar Salad with Pancetta

I am starting the blog off this year with a Caesar salad. My version contains plenty of freshly roasted and cracked peppercorns. Nothing perfumes and envelops your mouth with a punch of flavor like it. The burst of warmth and pepperiness pairs so well with romaine and the Caesar salad dressing. I use a mortar and pestle to crush the peppercorns. Don't have one of these handy dandy kitchen tools? No worries, a flat bottom mug or a rolling pin will do the job just fine. Try to keep some pieces coarse as they are the ones that will provide the best punch of flavor.

A mortar and pestel with cracked black peppercorns

The pancetta adds a crispy chew and a pop of color to the salad. If you are feeling lazy like me when I made this salad, pancetta can be found packaged and pre-diced which makes it an easy, tasty addition. And it takes literally minutes to cook. Of course, if you don't have or want pancetta, bacon is always a good substitute (as it always is in my book!).  

Roasted Black Pepper Caesar Salad with Pancetta

I will be the first to say that this is not a light salad. But after the gluttony of a high carb, high sugar, high fat, high cholesterol, low nutritional value diet of the past couple of months, anything with raw, fresh greens is a step in the right direction of getting back to healthier eating for me. (I am dipping my toes into the pool as opposed to jumping right in!) If you wish to make the dressing a little lighter, try swapping out half of the mayo with plain yogurt. By replacing only half of the mayo, the flavor of the dressing will not be noticeably compromised.

Roasted Black Pepper Caesar Salad with Pancetta

May the new year find you and your loved ones happy, wealthy, and well!!

Roasted Black Pepper Caesar Salad with Pancetta


For The Croutons:
3 cups 3/4" cubed French bread, fresh or day old
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. regular black pepper

For the Salad:
1/2 rounded tsp. black peppercorns
4 oz. diced pancetta
2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 anchovy fillets (mashed) or 1 1/2 tsp. anchovy paste
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. grated garlic
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
1 head of romaine, washed, dried and cut into bite size pieces


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

For the croutons: Place bread in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and regular black pepper. Toss bread with hands to coat with oil and seasoning. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until bread is toasted and golden brown.

Preheat a small skillet on medium high. Add peppercorns. Shake skillet every 30 seconds until peppercorns begin to pop. Remove from heat. Place peppercorns in a mortar and pestle. Crack peppercorns, leaving some coarse pieces. Alternatively, place peppercorns in a plastic bag and use a rolling pins to crack peppercorns.

Using the same skillet on medium high heat, add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add pancetta. Cook until crispy. Remove pancetta and place on paper towels to drain off fat.

Combine anchovies, mayonnaise, grated garlic, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, black pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese in a bowl. Whisk until creamy. Place romaine in a large mixing bowl. Add 2/3 of the dressing. Toss to coat. Add croutons, pancetta, and shaved Parmesan cheese. Add more dressing if desired to suit your taste. Toss to incorporate. Makes 4 to 6 servings.



No Spoon Necessary said...

Sounds like you had a great New Year! I've been called the wrong name by a friend who has had a wee bit too much to drink before as well. Lol. Love this caesar salad, Thao! LOVE LOVE LOVE that you used a heavy hand on the black pepper and the addition of pancetta is absolutely perfect! I could eat just this for lunch and dinner. Well, and breakfast because I'm a weirdo like that! Cheers, my dear - to a wonderful 2016! xo

Rachelle @ Beer Girl Cooks said...

Well your New Year's Eve sounds a lot more exciting than mine! No one forgot my name over here. I do love me a caesar salad and this makes me want one right now!

In Good Flavor /Food for the Finicky said...

It was pretty comical how my friend consistently got my name wrong. I didn't have the heart to correct her, and I'm sure she still would have gotten it wrong nonetheless. :) I love that you love the pepper. I could have kept adding more, but thought it best to stop so that normal pepper would want it! And you can have your salads for breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner snack....any time, my friend!

In Good Flavor /Food for the Finicky said...

Well, it wasn't all excitement, Rachelle. My husband slept through almost half of an action movie and my friend nodded off once or twice as well. But hey, I hope someone calls you by the wrong name next New Year's Eve! :)

Adina said...

Wonderful salad, Caesar Salad is one of my favorites, I eat it mostly in Italian restaurants, then I don't feel so guilty about all the mayonnaise... it has at least less calories than pizza. :)

In Good Flavor /Food for the Finicky said...

That's a great way to look at it, Adina. We could be doing worse than mayo. ;)

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

Pancetta would be a nice way to dress up a Caesar salad (which is a favorite of mine in the first place)! So with you on recovering from the less healthy food of the holidays!

amanda@craftycookingmama said...

Fabulous salad! Eh - light salads are better for the warmer months anyhow :) We stayed in this New Years - actually we've stayed in with the kiddos and a few close friends the past few years. I just don't enjoy the New Years Eve craziness anymore. Lol - guess I'm getting older. And wiser ;)

In Good Flavor /Food for the Finicky said...

Pancetta is a great addition to salads as it is to many other things. I hope you are doing better with your eating healthy goal than I am. It is after dinner on Wednesday and I haven't eaten one salad yet this week. :(

In Good Flavor /Food for the Finicky said...

Thanks for putting a positive spin on my not very light salad, Amanda! I like the way you spend your New Years Eve. I guess us older and wiser people think alike! :)

Kathleen K said...

Ha! Sounds like you had a great New Year! As for your friend... we've all been there ;) I'm one of those 'weird' people that loves and craves salads so I'm really loving this Caesar salad with loads of fresh black peppercorns! A perfect addition to my repertoire!

Liz Berg said...

Yes, this is definitely healthy in comparison to our holiday feasts! I love the addition of pancetta. I think I have some romaine in the fridge and Bill would love if I made a Caesar salad this weekend!

In Good Flavor /Food for the Finicky said...

Maybe we should start wearing name tags when drinks are involved! :) I think you are pretty lucky if you're salad craver. It is such a better addiction than Cheetos, Doritos, Peanut Butter Cups, and Almond Joy.

In Good Flavor /Food for the Finicky said...

I think Bill definitely needs a Caesar salad this weekend...with pancetta! :) Have a great weekend, Liz!

Karrie@TastyEverAfter said...

What a great recipe to start off the new year! Love Caesar salads and they are my favorite! We had friends over too for New Year's Eve and your story is so funny about your friend calling you by the wrong name. hahahaha! If that happened to me, I would NEVER let my friend live that down, but you are probably way nicer than me :) Happy New Year!!

In Good Flavor /Food for the Finicky said...

Maybe the word is "spunky"... you are spunkier than me, Karrie. :) But now I have something to dangle over her my friend's head. It should be fun!

Kelly said...

Happy New Year, Thao! Too funny about your friend but it sounds like you guys had a great time :) This salad sounds terrific! Caesar salad is my husband's favorite so I can't wait to try yours!

In Good Flavor /Food for the Finicky said...

Happy New Year, Kelly! I thought my friend was a riot, and I will have fun teasing her. :)

Miz Helen said...

Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you are having a great week and enjoy your new Red Plate!
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen

In Good Flavor /Food for the Finicky said...

Thank you for featuring the Caesar Salad, Miz Helen! I'm so glad you like it!!

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