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Susan and Ted Axelrod

Susan and Ted are a writer and photographer team who met while working for a magazine — Susan reviewing restaurants and writing food features, Ted photographing them. When Ted left the magazine for a freelance career, they launched their blog, Spoon & Shutter in 2010 as a way to keep doing what they love, together. After many years in Northern New Jersey, they are thrilled to be living in Maine, where Ted's clients occasionally include restaurants and food businesses. When they're not working, cooking, rehabbing their old farmhouse or hanging out with their two cool dogs – Ella and Dixie – they're having a blast exploring this spectacular state. To reach Susan, email saxelrod [at] mainetoday.com or follow her on Twitter: @susansaxelrod To reach Ted, email ted [at] axelrodphotography.com or follow him on Twitter @TedAxelRodPhoto .

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Spoon & Shutter with Susan and Ted Axelrod
Posted: January 15, 2014

Healthy lunch: chicken salad with avocado-Caesar dressing

Leftover roast chicken and other ingredients found in the fridge were the inspiration for a healthier version of Caesar salad.

All photos by Susan Axelrod

Caesar salad is one of the little black dresses of cooking and Ted happens to make a killer one. It’s all about the dressing, really, which he puts together in the traditional, big-production-number style with raw egg yolk, Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, good olive oil, plenty of garlic and Parmesan cheese — crushing the anchovies in so their salty-rich flavor is evident without the actual fish being obvious. It’s one of those decadent dressings that takes a salad well out of the diet food realm.

But he was out of town working and there I was, staring into the refrigerator at the remains of an especially tasty roast chicken (a Maine-ly Poultry bird from Rosemont Market, stuffed under the skin with garlic butter) and a small head of romaine lettuce — thinking that a chicken Caesar salad would be perfect for lunch.

There was also half of a ripe avocado, which seemed like a good candidate for the creamy base of a faux Caesar dressing. I scooped the flesh out of the shell, smashed it up thoroughly with a fork and stirred in lemon juice, a little mustard, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Too lazy to chop the fresh kind, I shook in a little granulated garlic. The result was definitely green, but otherwise pretty darn close to the real thing — for a fraction of the fat and calories. This was key, since I’m still in post-holiday, cookie-consumption-recovery mode.

If you are too, give this fab faux Caesar a try.

Avocado Caesar Salad Dressing
Serves 1-2, depending on the size of your salad and how much dressing you like

1/2 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped, or if you are lazy like me, a shake of granulated garlic or garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mash avocado well with the back of a fork. Stir in all other ingredients, blending well. Adjust amounts as needed — you may like more lemon juice, for instance.

The result: a healthy lunch at my desk

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