Life

Make Our Caesar Salad At Home And You’ll Never Order It Off A Menu Again

The Caesar Salad is a classic that returns to prominence every 20 years or so. The dish was invented by Italian migrants (Alex and Caesar Cardini) in Tijuana, Mexico as a tableside preparation in the early 1920s and came to fame in the late-20s and early 30s in Los Angeles amongst the Hollywood elite. It eventually became a mainstay of 1950s dinner parties, popping back up in the 70s/80s and enjoying an early aughts recalibration (remember the Spicy Caesar!?).

Well, it’s been about another 20 years and it’s high time the Caesar salad made one more roaring comeback.

As with any “famous” dish, there are a lot of variations and a lot of disappointing ones, at that. The thing is, the Caesar salad isn’t exactly simple. It’s not hard, but it does take a little doing. The dressing is an emulsification of egg yolk, lemon, mustard, anchovy, garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and Worcestershire, plus a little salt and pepper.

That leaves a lot of space for a lot of corners to be cut. I’ve seen people use Salad Creme with parmesan in it and call it “Caesar Salad Dressing.” Seriously, people really take liberties with this one.

Also, you have to have a little skill in whisking the egg and oil — similar to making your own mayonnaise. But that’s what is kind of great about learning this recipe. If you can master this, then mastering your own aioli or mayo is the next step in your skillset. We’re also going to make some nice croutons today, another easy skill we all should have.

Classic Caeser Salad

Zach Johnston

Ingredients:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 anchovy filets (jarred in oil)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sharp mustard (Dijon, etc.)
  • 4 dashes of fish sauce
  • 4 tbsp. grated parmesan + more for garnish
  • White pepper
  • Sea salt

I can’t over-emphasize: If you buy shit ingredients, your food will taste shitty. Buy good eggs, quality anchovy filets, nice olive oil for eating not cooking, a serious wedge of parm, and so forth. The better your base ingredients, the better your end product.

Zach Johnston

For the croutons:

  • Day-old baguette
  • Two garlic cloves
  • Handful fresh parsley
  • Handful fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • Sea salt
Zach Johnston

What You’ll Need:

  • Large salad mixing bowl
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen knife
  • Garlic crusher
  • Measuring cup with a spout
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper

Method:

Zach Johnston

For the croutons:

  • Pre-heat an oven to 350F/175C.
  • Crush the garlic.
  • Finely chop the parsley and basil.
  • Cut about 1/2 of a day-old baguette into one-inch cubes.
  • Add the bread cubes, herbs, oil, and garlic to a large mixing bowl.
  • Toss to coat all the bread cubes.
  • Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Liberally sprinkle with sea salt. (I also like to hit the bread cubes with another drizzle of olive oil).
  • Place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until toasted and dry, making sure to flip after ten minutes for an even toast.
  • Remove from the oven and set aside to cool on the baking sheet.

Quick tip: Use your senses. You’ll smell when the croutons are ready. Your kitchen should fill the smell of toasty garlic bread.

Zach Johnston

For the Caesar Salad dressing:

  • On a cutting board, mince the anchovy filets until as small as possible.
  • Crush the garlic over the anchovies, add a large pinch of salt, and start smashing the garlic and anchovy together with the broadside of the kitchen knife until a paste forms (alternatively use a mortar and pestle).
  • Add the egg yolk, mustard, and lemon juice to a small mixing bowl. Whisk until fully emulsified and just starting to froth.
  • Using a small measuring cup with a spout, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the yolk mix while continuously whisking. Don’t stop whisking until the yolk mixture and oil are fully emulsified creating something similar to a thin mayo.
  • Add anchovy/garlic paste, parmesan, a large pinch of white pepper, and fish sauce to the dressing and whisk until fully incorporated.
Zach Johnston

Put everything together:

  • Roughly chop two romaine lettuce heads. Place in a large salad mixing bowl.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the lettuce and add a handful of croutons. Toss until everything is fully coated.
  • Plate the salad and top with freshly sliced parmesan and more croutons.
  • Serve immediately.

Bottom Line:

Zach Johnston

This makes enough for two, meal-sized Caesar Salads (perfect for two lunches or date night). I actually don’t really care for a protein on my Caesar as it gets to be a bit much. But throw a chicken breast, salmon filet, or grilled prawns on if you want. Still, this is a big enough meal that you really don’t need it.

As for the salad, “bright” is the word that comes to mind. It’s so light, full of serious umami, sharp garlic, tart lemon, and velvet vibes that it’s hard not to love. I demolished this plate. The extra cheese slices (I used leftover pecorino in the end) with the crunch of the croutons are the perfect counterpoint to all that tang, umami, and velvetiness.

If you already have some croutons, this really isn’t that labor-intensive either. It took maybe ten minutes from start to finish to make the actual salad. That’s a very worthwhile ten minutes for something this tasty.

Zach Johnston
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