- Keep the Romaine leaves cold until the last minute before the salad is assembled
- Use imported freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Don’t omit the anchovies because you don’t like them on pizza. The anchovy adds flavor, but cannot really be distinguished by those who don’t know it is in the dressing.
- Coddle the egg if eating raw egg concerns you or those you are serving
- Above all, do not follow Julia Child’s recipe for Caesar Salad
The directions for Julia’s Caesar salad instruct that the dressing ingredients which include olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon and Worcestershire, be added to and tossed with the Romaine leaves in a large bowl. As a final step before adding the croutons and parmesan cheese, Julia instructs that a large whole egg be cracked over the salad and tossed with the leaves until the egg is broken up and distributed.
I had an ex- who prepared Caesar salad by adding a whole raw egg to the near assembled salad ala Julia and the result was a soggy mess rather than a Caesar salad. The dressing for Caesar is an aioli, or mayonnaise, flavored with garlic, anchovy and Parmesan. It can be achieved in a wooden bowl before adding the Romaine leaves as often done for a tableside presentation at restaurants, or ahead of time in a blender, or food processor. I have made Caesar salad dressing in a bowl and using a blender and now prefer to make it with a blender or processor because with this method an aioli of the proper consistency can be quickly achieved.
When I first starting making Caesar dressing I am pretty sure that I would read the ingredients on the side of a Colman’s mustard tin. At least that is my memory.
Today, there is no mention of this dressing on a Colman’s can. Maybe it has been removed for legal, or copyright reasons. Yet, I continue to loyally use Colman’s mustard powder when making this dressing even though I have successfully substituted prepared Dijon mustard in the past.
The first step in a great Caesar salad is the preparation of toasted croutons. These can be made by placing baguette slices on a sheet pan, drizzling these with olive oil and then toasting for about 5 minutes on each side in a 350-degree oven. Alternatively, the baguette slices can be quickly sautéed in a pan with olive oil, butter and crushed garlic. The latter method is used in this version, but truth be told, I prefer the simpler, oven toasted croutons.
A combination of canola and olive oil is used for this recipe. This is because the vigorous action of a blender, or food processor, imparts an unnatural bitterness to olive oil. The mixture is initially emulsified using the canola oil and then olive oil is added at the end with a very brief spin to combine.
For the Croutons
- 6 slices French baguette (day old preferred)
- 2 tablespoons everyday olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 cloves finely minced garlic
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
For the Salad and Dressing
- 1 head of Romaine, or packaged hearts of Romaine with leaves torn from stems
- 1 cup approximately freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 canned anchovy filets
- 1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
- 4 dashes Tabasco sauce
- ½ tablespoon Colman’s Mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 egg yolk, raw or coddled
- 3-4 grinds of fresh black pepper
- 1 pinch of salt, or to taste
- ½ cup (approximately) canola oil
- ¼ cup (approximately) everyday olive oil
For the Croutons
- Finely mince 2 cloves of garlic and then add a pinch of salt and mash the garlic by passing the flat side of a knife over the minced garlic several times on a cutting board
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of butter to a sauté pan and bring to a medium high heat. Add minced garlic and baguette slices and cook until slightly browned on the underside (about 2 minutes). Then flip croutons and continue cooking until both sides are slightly browned. If desired sprinkle the croutons with chopped parsley during the last minute of cooking. Remove croutons to drain on a paper towel.
For the Salad and the Dressing
- If using a coddled egg rather than a raw egg, add water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove pan from the heat, add the egg and let the egg stand in the hot water for 1 minute. Remove the egg to a cold-water bath to stop the cooking process and set aside until needed.
- Place the torn Romaine leaves in a bowl and refrigerate until needed
- Grate 1 cup of Parmesan cheese and set aside
- Place two cloves of peeled garlic and four anchovy filets in the bowl of a food processor and pulse two, or three times, or until the mixture is finely chopped.
- To the food processor add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, Colman’s mustard powder, lemon juice, ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese, and red wine vinegar. Separate the egg and add the yolk to the mixture in the processor. Add 1 pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper. Mix the ingredients in the processor and then slowly begin adding the canola oil. Check for consistency and taste. Add the olive oil and pulse one time to combine. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Pour into a small bowl and refrigerate for at least ½ hour, or until needed.
- Remove Romaine leaves and salad dressing from the refrigerator. Add two large spoons of the dressing to the Romaine leaves and toss to coat. Add additional dressing if desired. Sprinkle with ½ cup Parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Place single servings of the dressed Romaine leaves in bowls and garnish with a light sprinkling of Parmesan, two, or three croutons and optionally two, or three of the remaining anchovy filets. (If available, fresh cured white anchovy filets are a great garnish alternative to canned variety.)