I’m lucky to have friends who are great cooks.
I’m even luckier that those friends are willing to give me their recipes.
Before you stands my friend Wes’ Famous Caesar Salad.
This is another one of those fancy restaurant dishes that is really remarkably easy to make at home.
Here’s what you need:
Romaine Lettuce, Anchovies, Dijon Mustard, Garlic, Lemon, Egg*, Worcestershire Sauce, Olive Oil, Pepper, Parmesan Cheese & Croutons (not pictured)
*Let’s talk about that egg. Yes, real traditional Caesar Salad contains an egg. A mostly raw egg.
Everyone knows that raw eggs can be tricky. Some people don’t have any issues with eating raw or undercooked eggs. If you listen to the food advisories however, you might have some concerns.
There are a couple of things that you can do:
- Be sure you have extremely fresh eggs….preferably organic and/or pasteurized.
- Coddle the egg. No, this doesn’t mean that you hold it in your hands and make patronizing comments to it. It means that you bring a small pan of water to a boil and drop the egg in for 45 seconds – 60 max. This partially cooks the egg and kills any bacteria.
- Leave the egg out. It won’t be an “authentic” Caesar Salad but who cares. It will still be delicious. My stomach is MUCH happier when I don’t eat eggs, so I left the egg out and my salad still rocked.
Croutons! We also need croutons. Buy them at the store OR make your own.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut some leftover bread into small cubes and drizzle with olive oil or melted butter.
I’m using part of a wheat baguette but almost any firm bread will do. Sourdough is my favorite for croutons.
If your bread is a little on the stale side, even better.
Season with salt and pepper and any other seasonings you like. I used a dash of Paprika but garlic or Italian Seasoning Blend would also be good choices. You can make these as plain or as fancy as you like.
Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until hard and crunchy.
To be sure that they brown on all sides, give the pan a shake half way through the baking. If your oven is busy, you can also make these on the stove top in a pan over medium high heat.
If you have any extra croutons (yeah right, I eat these like candy), they will keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight bag or plastic container.
On to the dressing. The ingredient that sets Caesar Salad apart from all other salads is anchovies.
Before you scream “Ewwwww” and run away, let me just make a case for anchovies.
Some people love them and eat them plain, on bread, on pizzas, anywhere they can. Others, don’t. If you’re one of the others, I would make a case for trying anchovies IN things like this salad dressing.
They are so soft that when mixed with the garlic, they dissolve into a paste that is neither fishy nor icky. They provide a salty depth of flavor that just isn’t available in any other ingredient.
If the little anchovies are still grossing you out, I suggest you try anchovy paste in a tube as a substitute.
Begin by mincing up 1 clove of garlic.
Chop the garlic as small and fine as you can. Then turn your knife blade so that it is almost flat against the cutting board and use the flat part of the knife to further smash up the garlic.
Go back and forth scraping the flat blade of the knife along the garlic, scoop the garlic back together into a little pile, then scrape again until the garlic is almost a paste.
Open the anchovies (that you are now trying to love) and chop up 4 or 5 into small pieces.
The remaining anchovies can be served on top of the salad to anchovy lovers or kept in a plastic container in the fridge for a week or so. Trust me, you’ll want to make this salad again soon.
Put the smashed garlic and chopped anchovies into a large mixing bowl and smash them together with a fork.
Add 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard and some freshly ground pepper and smash it into the anchovies with your fork.
Add 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce. (Note: The Worcestershire Sauce is not in Wes’ original recipe, but I like it so I added it.)
Add the juice of 1/2 a lemon, switch to a whisk and mix everything together.
If you’re using the egg, coddle it in the boiling water for 45-60 seconds and break it into the dressing.
While you whisk, slowly drizzle 4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil (1/4 cup) into the dressing.
You want to whisk and drizzle at the same time rather than dumping the oil in all at once to be sure that the oil emulsifies and incorporates into smooth dressing.
This makes enough dressing for a whole head of Romaine. That’s generous side salads for 4-6 people or 3-4 big dinner salads.
Since I was cooking for 2, I took half of my dressing out and saved it for later use. It will easily keep in the fridge for a week if you don’t use the egg. If you used the egg, just to be on the safe side, I would make fresh dressing every time or invite more people over for dinner.
Tear or cut rinsed and dried (you do have a salad spinner, don’t you?) Romaine Lettuce into bite sized pieces and add it to the dressing.
Add a few tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese and toss the salad together.
Top with the croutons, extra anchovies if that’s your thing, and some extra shavings of cheese. You can make these shavings by using a regular old vegetable peeler on the side of the cheese wedge.
For a heartier dinner salad, add some sliced grilled chicken, cooked shrimp or even salmon.
All Hail, Wes’ Famous Caesar Salad!
It’s good to have good friends with great recipes.
True story….the last time I played a concerto with the orchestra, instead of flowers, Wes brought me a vintage pink Pyrex mixing bowl for my collection.
Yes, he knows me very well. He also recently sent me a brownie recipe that includes bacon and bourbon. Friend or enabler…it’s a tough call.
Here’s the recipe: