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Cara Cara Caesar Salad with Little Gem Lettuce and Garlic Parmesan Toasts


It’s Winter Citrus Season – these low acid, sweet Cara Cara navel oranges entice a Caesar-style dressing with zest! A Wonderful – Simple Salad with crunch and a daily dose of garlic.

Crispy Little Gem Lettuces team with Cara Cara Orange Slices, Crisp Garlic- Parmesan Toasts and a Creamy Caesar-ish Dressing bursting with Citrus Zest
Cara-caras are exceptionally sweet in flavor with a tangy cranberry-like zing

Caesar dressing traditionally contains fresh lemon juice to add balance and that needed acidic note.
Exchanging Cara Cara’s naturally sweet juice for the lemon juice seemed like a good idea, since I purchased a three pound bag of them recently – and they were waiting to be squeezed!

I also included the fruit’s rind which adds a greater citrus punch and a lingering orange hue. When zested it releases bright floral aromatics.

I’m a true garlic lover – for the dressing I cooked some garlic in extra virgin olive oil (for a mellow hint), and added some raw garlic for some heat. The dressing is simple to make in a small food processor or a blender.

Little Gem Lettuce Hearts are cross between butter and romaine lettuces. Their taste is a uniquely sweet, buttery flavor with perfectly shaped, vibrant green leaves. My new favorite lettuce – the leaves are crisp and firm, and stand up to a robust dressing without getting soggy!

Add some crunch with Garlic- Parmesan Toasts. I use baguette slices and bake until crisp. A pinch of fresh thyme on top adds a great bonus flavor, and pairs well with citrus. You can crumble them over the salad too.

Cara Cara oranges are a special variety of juicy, low acid, seedless navels packed with natural nutrition and minerals.

Known as “Red Navels, ” Cara Cara oranges were first discovered in 1976 at the Hacienda de Cara Cara in Valencia, Venezuela – and named after the farm t was found on.

They are grown in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Florida, Australia and South Africa. Available from winter through spring months. Like other navel oranges, Cara Cara oranges have a bright orange exterior, but their interior is a distinctive pinkish-red. The deeper colored flesh of the Cara Cara orange is from the presence of a caroteniod, lycopene.

Natural source of Lycopene,  the disease fighting antioxidant, and lower in acidity than other oranges.

The Cara Cara is a relatively new fruit, they did not enter the U.S consumer produce market until the late 1980s. Once just a specialty fruit, now it has gone mainstream – available in major grocery store chains, due to demand.

Their flavor is more complex than most navel varieties and has been described as evoking notes of cherry, rose petal, orange, and blackberry.

Enjoy this twist on everyone’s favorite Caesar Salad,

Cook some garlic in extra virgin olive oil for a mellow flavor, add raw garlic for heat
The dressing is simple to make in a small food processor or blender

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