For March’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge, Ruth, Shelley and Sawsan asked us to totally veg out! We made salads and dressings, letting the sky be the limit as we created new flavors and combinations that reflect our own unique tastes.
I figured what better opportunity than to try my hand at a homemade Caesar dressing! This is my salad of choice when I am dining out. It makes an excellent side salad or entree when paired with some grilled chicken or fish! I paired it with chicken pomodoro (which I will be posting about in the next day or so) and it made for an awesome meal! (I figured I’d write-up two separate posts since these two parts of the meals don’t have to go together by any means).
The “base” of Caesar salad is romaine lettuce. I chose to rip two hearts of romaine roughly as opposed to chopping them but either method will do. The dressing is traditionally made table-side as restaurants and at home it is best made right before serving. )The only bad part of a Caesar dressing is it’s short shelf-life due to raw egg yolks). It is made by first “steeping” grated garlic in lemon juice (to take a bit of the bite out of the garlic), then whisking in anchovy paste (for the umami goodness- don’t worry no fishy taste!), Worcestershire sauce and egg yolks. An emulsion is then made by drizzling in a steady, slow stream of olive oil and canola oil, whisking the whole time. Parmesan cheese and ground black pepper are mixed in at the end, to taste. You can then mix in yummy extras like croutons and/or crumbled bacon.
Croutons are super easy to make: rip or tear up bread (I used ciabatta), place on baking sheet, preheat oven to 350 degrees F, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and any other desired seasonings, like oregano, basil, etc. I also tossed mine with some finely grated Parmesan. I baked them for 5 minutes, tossed them around a bit and then baked for another 5 minutes. Crunchy and still a bit chewy. Yum.
The following recipe is delicious as is but if you are sensitive to the bite of raw garlic, cut back on it a bit.
(Adapted from “Caesar Salad” on cooksillustrated.com)
- 3/4 tsp. garlic paste (grate one large clove using a microplane or pass through a garlic press- for less of a bite in your dressing cut this amount in half)
- 2 – 3 tbsp. juice from 1 to 2 lemons
- 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 6 anchovy fillets, patted dry with paper towels, minced fine, and mashed to paste with fork (or 3 tbsp. tubed anchovy paste)
- 2 large egg yolks
- 5 tbsp. canola oil
- 5 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup)
- Ground black pepper
- 3 romaine hearts, ripped into bite sized pieces, rinsed, and dried very well (8 to 9 lightly pressed cups)
- ~1 cup Croutons (homemade or store-bought)
- Crumbled bacon, optional
- Whisk garlic paste and 2 tablespoons lemon juice together in large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes.
- Whisk Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, and egg yolks into garlic/lemon juice mixture.
- While whisking constantly, drizzle canola oil and extra virgin olive oil into bowl in slow, steady stream until fully emulsified.
- Add 1/2 cup Parmesan and pepper to taste; whisk until incorporated.
- Add romaine to dressing and toss to coat.
- Add croutons and bacon (if using) and mix gently until evenly distributed.
- Taste and season with up to additional 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
- Serve immediately, passing remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan separately.