Classic Caesar Salad

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Growing up, you all know that I hated most vegetables, and lettuce was no exception. I was not what you’d call a willing participant in that event we call Eating Your Salad. In fact, I despised most salads with much fervor – but for one in particular: the Caesar salad. I have always ADORED Caesar salad. I would have eaten Caesar salad once a day if permitted. Not only was it far and away my favorite salad, it was actually one of my favorite foods.

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I would order it at restaurants often, and I loved it when my mom occasionally made it at home. At the grocery store, I always begged her to buy the bottled Caesar dressing when we passed the salad dressing aisle, and when I graduated college, I often bought those prepackaged Caesar salad kits in the produce aisle. You know the ones with the bagged, pre-cut lettuce and the dressing packets? I admit, it makes me shudder to think of it now, but I have to come clean with you and confess that I did it. A lot.

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Over the past several years, I have learned to make Caesar dressing from scratch. It’s delicious, and there’s not much comparison to the corn-syrup and preservative-laden bottled stuff. It’s also pretty darn easy to pull off! And it’s become a go-to in our house. I usually have the ingredients on hand, so it oftentimes becomes the staple I-had-a-long-day-and-I’m-cranky-and-don’t-feel-like-making-dinner meal, when one or the other of us has had one of those days.

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We all change a lot going from children to adults. We learn, we experience things, we attend various schools of hard knocks. Our preferences and tastes change. We become more open-minded. But the love for Caesar salad has never changed for me. It’s something I frequently order in casual restaurants, especially if I’m unfamiliar with the place or its reputation. And it’s usually a safe bet. I find that when Caesar salad is good, it’s a religious experience; and when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

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Source: adapted from 20-40-60: Fresh Food Fast by Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients:
CROUTONS:
1/2 a French baguette, preferably day-old, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper

SALAD:
1 egg yolk
3 large anchovy fillets
2 garlic cloves
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
Dash of hot sauce
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 romaine hearts, cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions:
CROUTONS:
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. You want all the bread cubes coated in the oil.
Spread the bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

SALAD:
Place the egg yolk, anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, and mustard in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. While the machine is running, slowly drizzle in the oil until completely incorporated, smooth and thick. The key is to drizzle slowly.
Stop processing and add 1/4 cup of the cheese, the hot sauce, Worcestershire, plus salt and pepper to taste. Pulse to combine.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the romaine, the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, plus a pinch of salt and black pepper. Add 1/2 a cup plus 2 tbs of the dressing, then toss to combine. Sprinkle the croutons on top. Serve immediately.
The leftover dressing will keep for up to a week if stored in an airtight container and refrigerated.

4 responses to “Classic Caesar Salad

  1. Anchovies . . . Julie, you are a woman after my own heart.

    Looks delicious!

  2. Pingback: Collard Greens, Mushroom and Cheddar Bread Pudding #SundaySupper | The Texan New Yorker

  3. Pingback: Spanish Caesar Salad | The Texan New Yorker

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