Salmon Caesar-ish

Serves 4-6 27 June 2022 Dairy Free Gluten Free
It’s officially summer and in my world, sunshine calls for salad. This hot smoked salmon nod to a classic Caesar is ideal for the season and substantial enough as a stand alone main course on a hot day when the notion of turning on any heat to cook is just too much.

As you glance down the ingredients list here, I know you might think it’s a little bit of a stretch to call this a Ceasar, but it does include anchovies in the dressing and it absolutely has the right look so I’m letting it roll.

I love a Caesar in all it anchovy umami goodness, but can’t always be bothered with the aioli bit.  Thanks to a bad ranch dressing situation as a kid, I have a thing about adding mayonnaise to dressings (apart from Kewpie which lives in a whole other mayo world of its own). Here tahini (my love) replaces the traditional aioli-esque base with perfect Caesar texture, an idea I stumbled across with pure delight while leafing though the pages of Eating Out Loud and landed on Eden’s recipe for a Tahini Caesar salad. (I then lay awake at night for days wondering why I hadn’t thought of this genius idea myself). I held back on the parmesan in the dressing, and added a touch of yoghurt for maximum creaminess and a little extra acidity.

Gem hearts and small romaine lettuces are an absolute summer salad staple and essential in this recipe. They deliver the complete lettuce profile of bright sweet leaves and an utterly refreshing and gratifying crunch to quench the palate on a warmer day. Gems and romaines are also one of the few in the lettuce brigade sturdy enough to hold a heavier dressing without collapsing – a key component in today’s offering.

So here it is, this year’s contender for the simplest collection of ingredients delivering maximum flavour and enjoyment. You can of course replace the shop bought hot smoked salmon with trout or mackerel and if you want to heat up a pan, grilled chicken or tuna also work a treat.  Feel free to add a jammy egg to the salad party or include any of your favourites from the plethora of fresh bounty available at this time of year.

As always, please use this salad as an opportunity to unleash your creativity with your favourite ingredients. And enjoy this dressing. It’s going in my tahini hall of favourites.


I am painfully aware of what looks like a mile long ingredients list and different stages.  But they are tiny, store cupboard amounts which when put together make salad magic.  And the onions are really a fridge basic and delicious on and with just about everything from baked eggs to steamed greens, stirred through grains or scattered on to sandwiches……the list goes on……

Serves 2-4 as a light lunch or 4-6 as a side (greediness depending)


For the Salad

  • 4 small gem hearts (approx) or 2 gem hearts and 2 red romaine lettuce
  • 2 fillets hot smoked salmon (approx 300g)
  • 1 portion garlic croutons
  • 6-8 radishes, sliced thinly (watermelon radish is also delicious here)
  • 1/2 thinly sliced medium red onion OR a scattering of quick pickled red onions)
  • Tahini Casear Dressing
  • The dressing can be made upto 5 days in advance and the pickled red onions will keep for uptown 3 weeks in the fridge so they can both be made in advance, making this an easy throw together dish for a gathering.
  • Assemble the salad:
  • I like serving this on a large flat plate (a tray would also work) or a large shallow bowl.
  • If you are not pickling your onions, thinly slice half a medium red onion.  I like to do this on a mandolin.  Then place in a mesh sieve and rinse well under cold water to get rid of the raw onion taste.  Dry well with paper towels.
  • Little gem lettuce trick for you: To keep them crunchy, I wash them a couple of hours before I want to use them, dry them thoroughly and then place them in a bowl in the fridge under a damp piece of kitchen towel.  This makes for maximum crisp.
  • I like to build this in layers, to allow the ingredients and dressing to distribute with minimal tossing and salmon crushing in the process.
  • Arrange about 2/3 of the lettuce leaves at the bottom of the plate.
  • Break up the salmon fillets into pieces (there are no rules here, just let them flake into irregular bite size pieces) and scatter about 1.5 of the fillet pieces on top of the leaves.
  • Scatter 2/3 of the croutons and the sliced radishes and a forkful or two of pickled onions.
  • Then pour a light drizzle of dressing over everything.
  • Place the remaining ingredients onto the plate, finishing with croutons and onions for colour and dress with more of the dressing.  I err on the side of caution are and prefer not to overdress this salad but serve it with some extra dressing on the side for those who want more rather than less.

Have you made this dish?

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