I tried Cava for the first time while I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma this past weekend, and boy - does this place live up to it's hype! It was incredible. The chicken was juicy and seasoned to perfection. The mixture of the Caesar salad dressing and the Tahini sauce was a pairing made in heaven. Lastly - the fried pita strips were just the icing on the cake.
After my first bite, I thought "I need this. I need this every.day." Unfortunately for me (and likely many of you), live where there is not currently have a Cava. So what's a girl to do? Try her best to make the closest, easiest version of it at home that I can!
I love this bowl because it tastes heavenly, but also because it's packed with nourishing ingredients.
Dark leafy greens: the main base of the Cava salad was arugula and romaine, but in this recipe I chose arugula and spinach. Dark leafy greens contain vitamin C, K, calcium, iron, folate, and fiber.
Mediterranean seasoned chicken: primarily garlic and a variety of herbs - these have a myriad of benefits, including acting as an antioxidant, keeping your immune system strong, and have been shown to help reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. And of course, chicken is an excellent protein source.
Cheese: adds bone-building nutrients and a fat source. In the original recipe Cava used feta cheese, but I always have parmesan on hand, so parmesan made the recipe.
Caesar salad dressing: typically made with soybean or canola oil, is high in omega 3's and polyunsaturated fats (an anti-inflammatory fat), vitamin E, and vitamin K.
Tahini sauce: tahini is ground/liquified sesame seeds and is simply bursting with nutrients. It is primarily made up of monounsaturated fats (another anti-inflammatory fat), is a good source of some B vitamins, Phosphorus and Manganese. It also contains antioxidants and regular consumption could reduce your risk of developing certain chronic conditions like Heart Disease and Diabetes.
Hummus: essentially chickpeas and olive oil, this provides some plant-based protein, fiber as well as heart healthy fats from the olive oil.
With some pre-planning, this is a quick and easy meal for a busy fitness enthusiast or athlete.
The majority of the meal preparation effort is in the chicken, which MUST be marinated in all the delicious seasonings to really get that punch of flavor. Once the chicken has marinated long enough (I recommend at least 4 hours), then it is simply cooking the chicken. After that, this meal comes together in minutes. Literally - I timed myself. It took me less than 3 minutes to gather the ingredients, reheat the chicken, and put it all together. Now that's what I call an easy, quick and healthy meal.
Putting it all Together
How you cook the chicken is up to you! This chicken can be grilled, cooked on the stove, or even in the air fryer. Whichever method you prefer. In this recipe, I used the stove method. But I can imagine the chicken tasting even better on the grill. I am making this recipe in the middle of a cold front - so grilling wasn't necessarily a preferable option.
After that, the hard work is done! You will simply add all the bowl ingredients together with the chicken and viola - you've got a healthy, balanced and delicious copycat Cava Tahini Caesar bowl!
Copycat Cava Tahini Caesar Bowl
Prep Time: 4.5 hours (including chicken marinating time), Cook Time: ~10 minutes
Made Mediterranean Chicken Thighs per marinating directions. Heat a large pan on the stove top over medium heat. Coat the pan with a high heat oil.
Once the pan is heated, add the marinated chicken thighs to the pan (do not overcrowd - I had to do 2 batches).
Heat the chicken on both sides until completely cooked through, using a kitchen thermometer the middle of the chicken should read 165 F.
Slice the chicken into bite sized pieces.
Get out your bowl ingredients (leafy greens, cheese, dressings and pita chips). Add a serving of chicken and however much salad ingredients together that you want. Mix to be sure all the dressing goodness gets into each bite!
*You can use just spinach, just arugula, OR a mixture of whatever leafy greens you most prefer. As a reminder, romaine is a part of the original recipe.
**You can get creative with the grain/starch addition to this salad. I used pita chips because they were as close as i could get to fried pita strips. But I also used leftover roasted sweet potatoes and it was equally as delicious. Other ideas could be; cooked quinoa, soft naan/pita slices, or you could even make a pita/tortilla wrap! See this guide for grain/starch ideas.