Y’all know I love me some Caesar salad, it was one of few salads I ate willingly growing up. And the classic will never die, because it’s comforting and outrageously good and I would bawl like a baby if it ever did somehow die. However…. that doesn’t mean we can’t play around with the concept.
Last summer I purchased Bobby Flay’s book, Barbecue Addiction, and immediately flagged this recipe as a must-try. And then, as often happens, life gets in the way, and before you know it, months have gone by and you still haven’t made it, and then it’s winter and you’re not feeling salads, and then when the weather first warms up a little, you shop for ingredients and can’t find any white anchovies that don’t look like your cat chewed them up and then spit them back in the jar, and well, yeah. It happens.
But a few weeks ago, I noticed my grocery store, the incomparable Fairway Market, started carrying these beautiful, plump, imported white anchovies, displayed over ice near the fish monger. I snapped them up, anchovy fiend that I am, and immediately knew what I’d be making with them.
So, if I may pause for a moment here, and give an ode to a good white anchovy. Most people *think* they hate anchovies (although if you use Worcestershire sauce, your objections are suspect at best); and most people seem to revolt from their very presence because they’ve had really bad quality anchovies dumped on a commercially made cheese pizza. And yes, that is nasty for so many reasons.
I do love the commonplace red anchovies, but I rarely eat them whole. Mostly, they are thrown into a skillet with hot oil where they melt away and lend a wonderful nutty, salty and not fishy flavor to something. But, ohhhhh, these white anchovies…. These are so amazing, and it might actually be a crime against food to cook them or pulverize them in any way. They are PERFECT. Not fishy, not too salty, plump yet slightly chewy texture; basically they will make you swoon.
And this salad is beyond delicious. Matt and I simply couldn’t get enough. The recipe replaces most of the traditional ingredients of a Caesar salad with Spanish fare, like Manchego cheese for the parmesan, and Marcona almonds for croutons, and then adds a healthy dose of smoked Spanish paprika. I’m not sure what else I can even say, it’s just amazingly ridiculous. Enjoy!
Source: adapted ever so slightly from Barbecue Addiction by Bobby Flay
1 tsp grated orange zest
2 tbs fresh orange juice
2 tbs sherry vinegar
2 tbs mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika, plus more for garnish
½ tsp hot sauce
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Kosher salt and black pepper
½ cup olive oil
1 large head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 (15 oz.) can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup Marcona almonds
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, hand torn
2 oz. Manchego cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
10 white anchovy fillets, either brined OR packed in oil, patted dry
First, make the dressing. Combine the orange zest, orange juice, vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, paprika, hot sauce and garlic in a blender. Puree until very smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. With the motor running, remove the lid insert and slowly add the oil. Blend until the dressing is very smooth.
Now assemble the salad. Toss the lettuce and chickpeas together in a bowl and then add about 3/4 of the dressing. Toss to combine. Sprinkle the salad with the almonds and parsley. Lay the anchovies across the top of the salad decoratively, and then top with the cheese shavings. To serve, mound some salad on a dinner plate, then drizzle a touch more dressing over top. Garnish each serving with a pinch of extra smoked paprika. Serve immediately.