Here’s how to create your ultimate Caesar salad from scratch. Take crisp inner leaves of fresh romaine lettuce, light, crunchy croutons, a luscious creamy dressing with just the right amount of fresh garlic and lemon to balance the spicy saltiness and a chunk of splendid Parmigiano-Reggiano (aged Italian Parmesan-no less!). There you have it…so easy and ultimately delicious.This classic salad, created by Caesar Cardini in his restaurant in Tijuana in 1924, is internationally popular. It was originally made to order and tossed with flourish by waiters at table-side.Our method allows you to do the work ahead of time…to take along to a party, or to toss together a quick lunch.
You will need:
1 romaine lettuce, inner leaves, washed, torn into bite-sized pieces or left whole. Wrap in damp paper towel and chill.
Caesar Dressing (see below)
1 cup (250 ml) croutons (see below)
¼ cup (60 ml) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges
In a large bowl, toss romaine and croutons with dressing. Top with shaved Parmesan and season with fresh pepper. Serve lemon wedges on the side.
Cardini did not approve of adding anchovies to his dressing. He considered the anchovy essence from a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce enough.
1 large clove garlic, minced
1-2 anchovy fillets, rinsed, dried and minced (opt)
½ tsp (2 ml) Dijon mustard
3-4 shakes Worcestershire sauce
2 egg yolks (see below)
1 tbsp (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 ml) white wine vinegar
½ cup (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, crush together the garlic, anchovy, mustard and Worcestershire sauce to make a smooth paste. Stir in egg yolks, lemon juice and vinegar. Slowly beat in the olive oil to make a creamy sauce. Season with pepper. Transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate. Since the dressing uses fresh egg yolks, it does not store well. Make fresh, keep chilled and use the same day.
Is it OK to use raw egg yolks in your salad dressing?
“When properly handled, raw or lightly cooked Canadian Grade “A” eggs are not a concern for healthy individuals” cf. The official word from www.eggs.ca. However, if I am taking the salad to a party, or a picnic, I use lightly cooked egg yolks from eggs boiled 3 mins. J.R.
One baguette or artisan-style white loaf, sliced and cut into cubes or torn into small pieces. Place in a large bowl and season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss seasoned bread with ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and melted butter. (Add a minced garlic clove to the oil, if you like). Spread the bread pieces in a single layer on baking sheets. Bake in preheated 375° F (190° C) oven 10-15 minutes, shaking the pans occasionally until croutons are crisp and lightly golden. Let cool and store in a covered container.
Caesar Salad Extras
- Add slices streaky side bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled.
- Add torn pieces of roast chicken, slivers of grilled steak or grilled shrimp to make a tasty summer lunch or supper.
- Add 2 tbsp (30 ml) freshly grated Parmesan to Caesar Dressing and use as a vegetable dip.
- Substitute finely chopped kale and swiss chard for the romaine. Omit croutons. Toss greens with dressing and garnish with toasted almonds or pine nuts. Add a handful of dried cranberries for a touch of sweetness.
Of course, when time is short, you can cheat a little… pick up some (or all) of the elements for your Caesar salad fresh from the market. You’ll even find it all assembled and ready-to-go. Enjoy alongside your meats from the grill…it’s an essential taste of Summer.