Classic Caesar Salad

Caesar w Whole Greens

Caesar w Whole Greens

New Years Eve is a time for reflection and resolve to change that which no longer serves us well.  It has been an interesting year for me with the usual highs and lows but fortunately, the good exceeded the bad.  WordPress, the company that publishes this blog, takes this opportunity to prepare an annual review of blog activities and then send out  summaries to the writers.  I was pleased to see that in 2014 nearly 10,000 people from all over the world viewed this blog.  Although most of the readers were from the US, there were high numbers from Canada and Australia as well.  Eighty-eight additional countries were also represented.  It is overwhelming to think that Queen Jeanne has shared her stories, thoughts and recipes with so many people from varied cultures.  I am extremely grateful for all of my readers, their comments and input.

On this eve of welcoming in 2015, you will hear it said, “out with the old, in with the new.”  This may be applicable to some things in life but not when it comes to the classicsThis term could reference books, music, plays or in this case, recipes.  Culinary trends come and go but there are some preparations that sustain the tests of time and go on pleasing palates for years to come.  Featured today is The Classic Caesar Salad  said to have been created in 1924 by Italian chef, Caesar Cardini, who owned a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico.  It has endured for many decades and is still a popular offering.  You will see many versions but traditionally, it is made with romaine lettuce, croutons and Parmesan cheese, dressed with a garlic vinaigrette which is what gives it its swagger.  Given the modest salad ingredients, it is the dressing that is the star.

I made this to accompany the Christmas lasagna and it was very well received.  My step daughter offered the greatest compliment saying my Caesar is the best she ever ate, including the many she has sampled at restaurants.  Although I have made it for her often, I have never revealed that it is the anchovy (something she fears) that provides the umami element and briny blast that takes it over the top.

As with all dressings, it is the balance of all the ingredients that makes it a perfect composition.   Here is how it goes down.

CLASSIC CEASAR SALAD                                                 Serves 6-8

Recipe from Bon Appetit

This is the “go to” recipe from the folks at Bon Appetit.  It is classic and delicious.  Perfectly balanced, it is my “go to” as well.

Dressing

6 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained

1 small clove garlic, smashed

Kosher salt

2 large egg yolks

2T fresh lemon juice + more if needed

¾ t Dijon mustard

2T extra-virgin olive oil

½ c vegetable oil

3T Parmesan (preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano, it makes such a difference)

Freshly ground black pepper

Croutons (so much better homemade)

3c torn 1-inch pieces of country bread with crusts

3T olive oil

Salt and pepper

Lettuce

3 Romaine hearts, separated (whole or torn as desired)

Parmesan, shaved with vegetable peeler for garnish

The dressing can either be made by hand or using a small food processor.

  1. Chop together anchovy fillets, garlic and pinch of Kosher salt to mash into a paste.
  2. Whisk or blend in the egg yolks, 2T of lemon juice and the mustard.
  3. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking or running the food processor and the vegetable oil in the same way until the dressing is thick and glossy.
  4. Whisk in the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper and more lemon juice, if desired.

Do ahead:  Can be made a day ahead

Croutons (make your own)

  1. Tearing the bread ensures nooks and crannies that catch the dressing
  2. and add texture.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Toss bread in olive oil on a baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake, tossing occasionally until golden 10-15 minutes.

Do ahead:  Make a day or two ahead.  Cool and store in air tight container.

Assembly

  1. Toss romaine lettuce (either whole leaf or torn) with croutons and dressing (I like to use my hands).
  2. Top with thinly shaved (use a vegetable peeler) Parmesan.
Parmigian0-Reggiano Keep Fresh Wrapped in Cheese Paper

Parmigian0-Reggiano
Keep Fresh Wrapped in Cheese Paper

This salad is packed with flavor.  The eggs and a high quality Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano) give richness to the emulsion and the anchovies provide the swagger.  I urge you to resolve in 2015 to get over your fear of these tiny fishes (if it applies) and discover the depth they can provide in soups, sauces and dressings.  You won’t even know they are there but you will notice the added punch. Take it to the next level!

Salad w Torn Greens

Salad w Torn Greens

As the year comes to a close, I want to thank all of my readers for their continued support.  I love the comments and questions you offer and I love to think of all the love shared around the table.  A friend (and blog follower) recently wrote that she served the baked brie with bourbon bacon jam recipe I featured before the holidays and “They were such a hit that my family was auctioning off the last piece.”  It is this kind of feedback that keeps me developing recipes and sharing them with you in hopes that they will inspire you to spread the love, one dish at a time.  I send wishes for a new year filled with good health, happiness and of course, love.  Sending mine to you.  Happy New Year!

IMG_8242Cook with heart, using the best ingredients you can find.  Buy local, eat seasonal.  Make it your own.

 

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11 responses to “Classic Caesar Salad

  1. I like to rub the cut sides of a garlic clove on the baking sheet to add a little garlic taste to the croutons, and a dash of Worcestershire to the dressing. Happy 2015!

  2. Hi Jill: Thanks for your comments. I know some people use Worcestershire in place of anchovies because it is made with anchovies but never thought about using it in addition, I like the garlic crouton idea. I will have to try your suggestions. Thanks and Happy 2015. Jeanne

  3. JEANNE WHAT IS CHEESE PAPER, AND WHERE IS IT SOLD?

  4. Elizabeth Palmer

    Salad is a welcome sight after the rich and intricate foods we indulged in over the holiday season! Looks like a classic Caesar that I will try for sure. We did enjoy the baked brie bites and also your recipe for lamb meatballs with tahini at our Christmas Eve celebration. I tucked some meatballs into the freezer to enjoy another time, maybe with pita bread…? Happy New Year!

    • Thanks for the feedback, Elizabeth. I spoke to your sister a few days before and she was really looking forward to the evening. Glad it all worked out. The salad is really good. I hope you will try it as well. May 2015 be kind to us all.

  5. Dear Jeanne, thank you for sharing this wonderful, classic rendition of Caesar Salad — as well as your stats (well deserved) and musical and literary analogies. Torn croutons? Swoon! Surface area is everything — physics-wise, crouton-wise, and taste bud-wise. 🙂 Happy New Year!!!

  6. P.S. I totally embrace your last paragraph. xo!

  7. Thank you, Kim. I hope you are well. What a year for you! I pray 2015 is kind to us all. I truly appreciate the friendship we have developed through our blogs. Yours is always inspirational and so well written. I assume form your recent post you are not back at the lake. Hope it all comes back to you soon. Best wishes for the New Year. Sending love. Jeanne

  8. Such a beautiful blog! I must have missed the baked brie but definitely plan to check that one out. I am also looking forward to trying my hand at making the Caesar dressing. A Caesar is my “go to” at restaurants and yet I’ve never made it at home. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  9. Pingback: Almost In My Kitchen ~ February 2015 | a little lunch

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