Garlicky, Piquant and Satisfying
- Servings: 3/4 cup dressing and serves 4 to 6.
Every time I'm in a restaurant and see Caesar salad on the menu, I'm tempted to order it. I love the combination of crunchy romaine lettuce with the garlicky dressing. But I'm always annoyed by the price -- this dish is notably low cost to make -- plus I'm nearly always disappointed in the flavor. That's because what makes a Caesar Salad special is the dressing.
A classic Caesar is a bowl of pieces of crispy romaine that have been dressed in a robust dressing that gets its flavor from a balance of salty anchovies, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. If you want to turn a Caesar salad into a main course, you can mimic a popular restaurant trick and just add shrimp or slices of chicken breast on top. Just pan-cook whole, peeled shrimp until they just begin to brown, or boneless chicken breasts that you let cool and slice on the diagonal. But I think you will take better advantage of the full flavors of this dressing if you instead top your salad with 1-inch slices of medium-rare pork tenderloin or thin, deep-pink slices of London broil steak.
- 3 to 4 peeled garlic cloves, minced into a paste (about 2 teaspoons)
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 4 oil-packed anchovies, minced very fine
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (about 8 grinds)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium heads romaine lettuce; remove base and outer leaves and tear into 1 1/2 -inch pieces; about 10 cups
- 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Combine all the dressing ingredients -- except the olive oil -- in the bowl of a food processor: the garlic paste, lemon juice, egg yolks, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, salt, pepper, vinegar and mustard. Pulse until everything has been completely combined and emulsified.
- With the processor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until completely combined.
- Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
- The dressing can be used immediately or else refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day. Be sure to shake or whisk thoroughly before using.
- Assembling the Salad:
- Wash and thoroughly dry the pieces of romaine lettuce. Place in a large salad bowl with a handful of garlic croutons and toss with half of the dressing and the grated cheese. Add more dressing as needed and continue to toss to coat well.
- Serve immediately.
Tip: If you are concerned about using a raw egg, simply bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and carefully lower the whole egg into the water and cook for 45 seconds. I usually place the egg inside a plastic pasta fork and use this to hold the egg in the water while letting it be completely surrounded by the boiling water. Remove from the water and when cool enough to handle, crack the egg into a small bowl until you're ready to use.
2 large peeled garlic cloves that have been either sliced very thin or else put through a garlic press
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups 1-inch cubes of white bread (this can be from a white Pullman, a baguette, ciabatta, or any other flavorful white bread, either fresh or day-old)
- In a large bowl mix the garlic, salt and olive oil. Let sit for about 10 minutes so that the garlic begins to flavor the oil.
- Add the bread cubes to the bowl and toss to combine and so that the oil gets equally dispersed throughout cubes.
- Spread the cubes in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan.
- Pre-heat oven to 375º F.
- Bake the croutons until they are toasted and golden, about 12 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally so that they cook evenly. If you've used thin slices of garlic, these too will become golden brown.
- You can equally toast the croutons in a large skillet on top of the stove.
- Cool to room temperature.
The croutons can be kept in an airtight container for up to 1 day.