Caesar Salad With Pepperoni Bits and Feta

Caesar Salad With Pepperoni Bits and Feta

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My take on Caesar Salad is not very classic at all. This version of Caesar salad comes with quite a twist. 

In The Mountain Kitchen, Caesar salad begins like any traditional Caesar salad with crisp roman lettuce, grated parmesan cheese, and crunchy homemade croutons. However, I take classic Caesar salad to another level by making a homemade creamy caesar dressing. What makes this salad so special are crispy browned bits of pepperoni and crumbled up on top with feta cheese.

sliced romaine lettuce wedges

This salad was once nicknamed “The Blonde Italian Caesar Salad”. David used to call me “The Blonde Italian” because I used to cook so much Italian food. Truth be known, there is not an Italian bone in my body. I just love Italian cuisine and enjoy making Italian dishes. I can only assume, my passion for Italian cuisine comes out in the taste of the dishes I make.

raw steaks on platter

At least one Saturday night a month is designated as “Steak Night” in the Spivey household. This Caesar salad with pepperoni bits and feta cheese almost always makes an appearance as a side dish to a big fat juicy ribeye steak. 

I used to purchase all store-bought products to make this salad, but now I make everything from scratch, which makes this salad even more delicious. 

I’d love to show you how to make it.

Let’s make this salad!

Caesar salad with creamy caesar dressing

HOW TO MAKE CAESAR SALAD WITH PEPPERONI BITS AND FETA

Make The Creamy Caesar Dressing

First, make the salad dressing. You can do this up to a day ahead. The dressing needs a little time to sit so the flavors can meld together. 

  1. In a small bowl, using a whisk, combine the lemon juice, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, and Dijon mustard; whisk well. Add in mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt), whisking until well incorporated and creamy. 
  2. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Wrap or pour the dressing into a jar and place the dressing in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
pepperonis browning in pan

Brown The Pepperonis

Next, brown the pepperonis so they have time to cool. The trick is to crisp the pepperonis without burning the oils that render from the meat while cooking. This slow cooking process sometimes can take up to 30 minutes, but it is worth it for crispy pepperonis.

pepperonis for Caesar salad draining on paper towel
  1. Place the pepperoni slices into a small non-stick pan over the lowest heat setting your stove allows. Turn the pepperoni slices over about halfway through the cooking. Usually, the pepperonis will curl up like bowls. This is usually a good time to flip them over onto the other side. This will help them to collapse and become flat again.
  2. The pepperonis are done, when the color turns from bright red to a rusty-brown color the oil sheen on the surface turns opaque and they harden and become crisp. The oil will also start to smoke slightly as well. This is also another indicator that the pepperonis are ready.
  3. When the pepperonis are done, remove the pan from the heat. Using tongs, lift each pepperoni out of the pan and set them onto some paper towels to drain and cool completely.
  4. Once the pepperonis are cool, ball up the paper towel with your hand and crumble the pepperonis into bits. 
croutons

Make the Really Easy Homemade Croutons

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Using a bread knife, cut the bread into uniform bite-size cubes (or tear the bread with your hands) to make about 3 cups of bread cubes.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil together. Season with kosher salt and pepper, to taste. Add two cloves of smashed garlic to the seasoned melted butter and olive oil mixture. Simmer until the garlic is fragrant; about 1 minute, but DO NOT BROWN. (Browning garlic makes it bitter.) Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Remove the garlic cloves and discard.
  4. In a large bowl, slowly pour the seasoned oil mixture over the bread cubes. Toss the bread until well combined.
  5. Line a sheet pan large enough to spread the croutons out with parchment paper. Turn the croutons out onto the prepared baking sheet and spread the croutons out in a single layer, allowing as much space as possible between the bread cubes.
  6. Start out baking for 10 minutes. Then give the bread cubes a stir. This will give you an idea of how things are going. Continue to bake the cubes, until dry and light golden brown in color, an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Allow the croutons to cool before adding to cold salads, or they could cause your lettuce to wilt.
Caesar salad with pepperoni bits and feta

Put The Caesar Salad Together

While the pepperonis are browning and the croutons are baking, prepare the salad.

  1. Chop or tear the lettuce into bite side pieces. Wash and spin the lettuce dry with a salad spinner. Distribute it evenly into individual serving bowls.
  2. Crumble the feta cheese equally into each bowl.
  3. Grate the Parmesan cheese into each bowl using a Microplane.
  4. Place the salads inside the refrigerator to chill, until needed.
caesar salad with mountain view

How To Serve The Caesar Salad

When you are ready to serve the salads, give the dressing a final whisk and add on the final ingredients.

  1. Sprinkle half of the pepperoni bits equally onto each salad.
  2. Top each salad with croutons, a dollop of creamy caesar dressing, and finish with a little fresh cracked pepper, to taste.

Recipe Notes:

Allow the croutons cool completely and store in a sealed container for up to two weeks.

Alternatively, you could add them to a freezer bag or freezer-safe container and freeze for several weeks to a year! To use from the freezer, heat them in the oven on a sheet pan until they are warm in crisp again.

So when are you going to be searching for those tidbits at the bottom of your bowl?

casesar salad with pepperoni bits and feta
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The Blonde Italian Caesar Salad

Give your Caesar salad a wow factor, by adding crispy pepperoni bits and tangy feta cheese. You’ll love those tasty tidbits at the bottom of the bowl.
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword Caesar dressing, Caesar Salad, feta, Pepperoni
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 420kcal

Ingredients

The Creamy Caesar Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 4 anchovy fillets minced (about 1 ½ teaspoons)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (see notes)
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese finely grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

The Pepperonis

  • 16 pepperoni slices

The Croutons

  • ½ loaf bread about 8 ounces
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 clove garlic smashed

The Salad

  • 4 cups Romaine lettuce washed and hand torn or chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese freshly grated, to taste
  • ¼ cup feta cheese crumbled, to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions

Make The Creamy Caesar Dressing

  • In a small bowl, using a whisk, combine the lemon juice, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, and Dijon mustard; whisk well. Add in mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt), whisking until well incorporated and creamy. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Wrap or pour the dressing into a jar and place the dressing in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Brown The Pepperonis

  • Place the pepperoni slices into a small non-stick pan over the lowest heat setting your stove allows. Turn the pepperoni slices over about halfway through the cooking. Usually, the pepperonis will curl up like bowls. This is usually a good time to flip them over onto the other side. This will help them to collapse and become flat again.
  • The pepperonis are done, when the color turns from bright red to a rusty-brown color the oil sheen on the surface turns opaque and they harden and become crisp. The oil will also start to smoke slightly as well. This is also another indicator that the pepperonis are ready.
  • When the pepperonis are done, remove the pan from the heat. Using tongs, lift each pepperoni out of the pan and set them onto some paper towels to drain and cool completely.
  • Once the pepperonis are cool, ball up the paper towel with your hand and crumble the pepperonis into bits. 

Make the Really Easy Homemade Croutons

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Using a bread knife, cut the bread into uniform bite-size cubes (or tear the bread with your hands) to make about 3 cups of bread cubes.
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil together. Season with kosher salt and pepper, to taste. Add two cloves of smashed garlic to the seasoned melted butter and olive oil mixture. Simmer until the garlic is fragrant; about 1 minute, but DO NOT BROWN. (Browning garlic makes it bitter.) Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Remove the garlic cloves and discard.
  • In a large bowl, slowly pour the seasoned oil mixture over the bread cubes. Toss the bread until well combined.
  • Line a sheet pan large enough to spread the croutons out with parchment paper. Turn the croutons out onto the prepared baking sheet and spread the croutons out in a single layer, allowing as much space as possible between the bread cubes.
  • Start out baking for 10 minutes. Then give the bread cubes a stir. This will give you an idea of how things are going. Continue to bake the cubes, until dry and light golden brown in color, an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Allow the croutons to cool before adding to cold salads, or they could cause your lettuce to wilt.

Put The Caesar Salad Together

  • Chop or tear the lettuce into bite side pieces. Wash and spin the lettuce dry with a salad spinner. Distribute it evenly into individual serving bowls.
  • Crumble the feta cheese equally into each bowl.
  • Grate the Parmesan cheese into each bowl using a Microplane.
  • Place the salads inside the refrigerator to chill, until needed.

How To Serve The Caesar Salad

  • When you are ready to serve the salads, give the dressing a final whisk and add on the final ingredients. Sprinkle half of the pepperoni bits equally onto each salad.
  • Top each salad with croutons, a dollop of creamy caesar dressing, and finish with a little fresh cracked pepper, to taste.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Notes

The Creamy Caesar Dressing:
  • A Lighter Option: *Nutrition Label based on mayonnaise. To make a lighter version of this recipe, use Plain Greek Yogurt instead of mayonnaise. It practically cuts the calories in half! 
  • Don’t Like Anchovies? You can totally leave the anchovies out and add a pinch of salt in their place. If you leave the anchovies out, you can store the dressing in the refrigerator for about 7 to 10 days without the overpowering fish taste.
  • Storage: Store any unused dressing inside the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. If you store it too long the anchovies make the dressing rather fishy.
The Pepperonis:
  • The trick is to crisp the pepperonis without burning the oils that render from the meat while cooking. This slow cooking process sometimes can take up to 30 minutes, but it is worth it for crispy pepperoni.
The Croutons:
  • Allow the croutons cool completely and store in a sealed container for up to two weeks.
  • Alternatively, you could add them to a freezer bag or freezer-safe container and freeze for several weeks to a year! To use from the freezer, heat them in the oven on a sheet pan until they are warm in crisp again.
Nutrition Facts: Calories are based on using ½ the dressing. This salad recipe makes 4 salads so you should only need about half of the dressing. For more information on nutrition, visit our Policies & Disclaimers Page.

Nutrition

Calories: 420kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 596mg | Potassium: 138mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 4482IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 178mg | Iron: 1mg
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