Fall Caesar Salad

Caesar salad is a crowd favorite anytime of the year.  A creamy, tangy dressing on top of crunchy romaine with fresh homemade breadcrumbs……mmmmm.  But this version really brings the season to the plate by using toasted pumpkin seeds sweetened and spiced  with a little brown sugar and chile powder for added crunch.  And I like to add a touch of cumin to my classic Caesar dressing for an added twist on an old favorite. This salad is beautiful in a large bowl served family style at your Halloween pot luck dinner, or if you are hosting a cocktail party you can dress it up by serving individual romaine leaves topped with a little dressing, red onion, breadcrumb and pumpkin seeds.  The dressing can be made two days in advance, which make this recipe a nice do ahead for any holiday entertaining!

Caesar Salad
3 bunches of romaine hearts, torn or served whole
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons Fall Caesar dressing (recipe follows)
2 cups breadcrumbs (recipe follows)
1/2 cup Spiced Pumpkin Seeds (recipe follows)

1.  Place lettuce in a large bowl and gently toss with 3 Tablespoons of the dressing.  Place on a platter and top with red onion, breadcrumbs, pumpkin seeds, and lemon slices.  Drizzle with more dressing, if desired, and add fresh ground pepper.

Fall Caesar Dressing
1 large clove garlic
4 fillets of anchovy
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
Salt & Pepper

1.  Place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times.  Add in the anchovy and pulse again a few more times.  Add in the remaining ingredients and process until blended.  Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.  Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Pumpkin Seeds
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
Pinch of ground cumin
Pinch of chili powder
1/2 cup dry roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
Salt & Pepper

1.  In a medium saute pan melt the butter over medium low heat.  Add in the , brown sugar, cumin and chile powder and whisk to blend in until the sugar starts to dissolve.  Next add in the pumpkin seeds and stir with a rubber spatula until all seeds are coated, being careful not to burn them.  Remove from heat and let cool on parchment paper until ready to serve.  Can be made 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container.

2 cups day old rustic bread, cubed
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper

1. In a large heavy bottomed saute pan melt the butter and olive oil together over medium to medium low heat.  Add in the breadcrumbs and let them slowly brown, turning with tongs until browned on all sides.  About 3 minutes per side.  Remove and let cool.

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