I have to admit that my first response was to snark. Chain restaurants are not my thing. I honestly try to avoid them. There was a time that I was all about Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Applebee's. Over time, I have evolved and my tastes have shifted. My snarky, snobby side wanted to claim that I was now better than all that.
Bullsh*t. (sorry, if that seems too bluntly harsh for you)
Nobody is "better than all that." Some people are snobs, but that doesn't make them better. Ever.
I don't want to be a snob. Ever.
We all come from different backgrounds, have different tastes, experiences, abilities, finances, and even desires. Snobbery about food is, in a word, ridiculous. Of course, we all want healthy options that taste great, but snarking about a restaurant review doesn't do anything positive to accomplish that. There is nothing wrong with an enthusiastic review for The Olive Garden. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a meal out, even at a chain restaurant.
While it won't be my first choice, I will more than likely visit an Olive Garden again some day. I seriously do enjoy their salad and bread sticks. The vinaigrette is perfect with the crisp greens. The bread sticks are soft, warm, and garlicky without making you feel like a you have the breath of the dead after eating them.
Caesar Salad Pizza reminds me a bit of an Olive Garden salad and bread sticks. Brushing the golden, grilled pizza crust with homemade Caesar dressing imparts great flavor. Topping that grilled crust with a light and fresh salad makes a delectable, simple meal.
Use a dough recipe that you love. A soft and chewy crust can be folded over the salad like a taco (or a New York slice). A crispy crust can be held like a cracker with a garden topping. Thicker crusts might need a knife and fork.
Make Caesar Salad Pizza your own based on your own tastes, experiences, abilities, and desires. Enjoy what you love. Forget the critics and the snarks. Don't be a snob. Ever.
(adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
juice of 1/2 of lemon
1 canned anchovy fillet
1 pound refrigerated pizza dough (or your favorite recipe)
4 cups romaine lettuce, shredded
1/2 - 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Preheat grill to medium-high (we love charcoal, but gas is good, too).
In a food processor or blender, puree the Parmesan, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and anchovy.
Divide the pizza dough into 4 portions.
Rub the dough with a little (additional) olive oil, and press to a uniform thickness.
Place dough on the grill, cover, and cook until browned on one side (about 3-4 minutes).
Turn dough and grill until cooked through (about 3 more minutes).
Brush one side of each pizza with the anchovy dressing.
Toss the lettuce and tomato with remaining dressing.
Top the pizza crusts with the salad. (Serves 4.)