caesar salad

I didn’t always get Caesar salad. It seemed like it was just salad that was all lettuce and no goodies. Where’s the tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, carrots, or cured meats?

I understand now that that’s the point of it – that even without a range of colors, a salad can have a range of textures and flavors. Crisp lettuce, crunchy croutons, creamy dressing; salty parmesan, lightly bitter romaine, and most importantly, stinky garlic and wonderful savory anchovies.

Not everyone thinks anchovies are wonderful, I know. Some people – people who are otherwise not picky at all despite their reticence toward brownies – think they’re actually quite disgusting. Those people were not implicitly told about the anchovies in this recipe, and even when the amount was accidentally doubled one time, those people (or the one of those people I regularly cook for) still raved about the salad. Do not fear the anchovy.

But if you want to fear the raw egg (which I do not, as we all know from my cookie dough habit), you may, because I tested this out with mayonnaise instead of the yolks, and it was nearly as good as the original. With the addition of some leftover shredded chicken, this salad becomes a simple (if surprisingly unhealthy) meal.

One year ago: Cherry Tomato Salad
Two years ago: Lemon Poppy Seed Waffles
Three years ago: Sushi Rolls

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Caesar Salad (from Cooks Illustrated)

Serves 4

I confess that I did not care for this method of toasting the croutons. I was not able to achieve evenly browned croutons on the stovetop, probably because I wasn’t willing to use the full amount of oil. I’ll reproduce the original recipe below, but in the future, I’ll toast the lightly oiled croutons the oven and then toss them with the oil/garlic mixture.

If you don’t want to work with raw egg, substitute 1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise for the yolks.  This will result in a slightly thicker dressing, but not a bad one.

Croutons:
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, pressed through a garlic press (or pureed on the tines of a fork)
5 cups (¾-inch) ciabatta bread cubes
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

Salad:
1 large garlic clove, pressed through a garlic press (or pureed on the tines of a fork)
2-3 tablespoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
6 anchovy fillets, mashed to a paste with a fork (1 tablespoon)
2 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons canola oil
5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1½ ounces (¾ cup) finely grated Parmesan
Ground black pepper
2-3 romaine hearts, cut crosswise into ¾-inch-thick slices, rinsed, and dried very well (8-9 lightly pressed cups)

1. For the croutons: Combine 1 tablespoon oil and garlic paste in small bowl; set aside. Place bread cubes in large bowl. Sprinkle with water and salt. Toss, squeezing gently so bread absorbs water. Place remaining 4 tablespoons oil and soaked bread cubes in 12-inch nonstick skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until browned and crisp, 7 to 10 minutes.

2. Remove skillet from heat, push croutons to sides of skillet to clear center; add garlic/oil mixture to clearing and cook with residual heat of pan, 10 seconds. Sprinkle with Parmesan; toss until garlic and Parmesan are evenly distributed. Transfer croutons to bowl; set aside.

3. For the salad: Whisk garlic paste and 2 tablespoons lemon juice together in large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes.

4. Whisk Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, and egg yolks into garlic/lemon juice mixture. While whisking constantly, drizzle canola oil and extra virgin olive oil into bowl in slow, steady stream until fully emulsified. Add ½ cup Parmesan and pepper to taste; whisk until incorporated.

5. Add romaine to dressing and toss to coat. Add croutons and mix gently until evenly distributed. Taste and season with up to additional 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Serve immediately, passing remaining ¼ cup Parmesan separately.

Comments

  1. I *so* wanted to make this when I saw it in CI, but I got caught up in the fact that they recommend a jar of oil packed anchovies. I couldn’t find them anywhere. What anchovies did you use?

  2. bridget says:

    Maggie – Nothing fancy. I can’t remember the brand, but they’re just the standard ones in the can. I should probably try it with fancy schmancy anchovies and see if it’s different.

  3. I absolutely love homemade caesar dressing. When I make it I don’t put raw eggs in, I substitute in 1/4 cup (or so) of soft tofu. We don’t like putting mayo in because it gives it a weird flavor but the soft tofu gives it a similar consistency as putting the eggs in.

  4. I’ve been wanting to make a traditional caesar for a long time now! Thanks for the recipe.

  5. Your Caesar salad look sooooooo good! I haven’t had caesar salad in over a year, and after reading your post I made myself one.

  6. Your salad looks so delicious. Even better that it’s made from scratch! And I’ll go out on a limb here and admit that I actually love anchovies! And sardines! I’ve grown up eating some pretty weird stuff though haha!

  7. I LOVE this, one of my all time favorites. A staple if you will.

  8. OMG all your posts look amazingly delicious! I want the lentil burgers for dinner and the brownies for dessert! Thanks from your newest follower at Yummy Mummy {http://www.yummymummykitchen.com}

  9. YUM. I don’t love anchovies, but I don’t hate or fear them. It cracks me up that most people think they hate them but don’t notice when they eat them!

  10. I love a good caesar dressing. Meaning one without mayonnaise. Making it at home is the only option if you hate mayo, because restaurants don’t want to deal with the hassle and perceived risk of serving raw egg. As for anchovies, the more the better!

  11. Hi!
    I have a question, unrelated to this recipe.
    I have read before on your blog, that you sometimes freeze baked goods (cake or cupcakes). I am wondering how do you defrost hose after? Just let them melt, or place in oven or any other method?
    Thanks in advance.

  12. bridget says:

    Zii – I just leave them, covered, at room temperature until they’re defrosted.

  13. What a coincidence. I made CI’s 1996 recipe for Chicken Caesar Salad Friday night. It calls for putting the eggs in boiling water for 45 seconds, then discarding all but the yolks. I warmed eggs to room temp before I boiled for the 45 seconds. It was very good.

  14. I love a good caesar salad! It has to have a perfect balance of flavors though, which is hard to achieve. Sounds like Cook’s Illustrated recipe got it right (cept for the croutons). I have some leftover egg yolks so I may have to give this recipe a shot!

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