Because Caesar salad is so easy to make, I never order it in restaurants and will make it at home, with store bought dressing, spiked with a little extra parmigiana. However, the other day, I went to our local pizzeria and ordered a Caesar salad to nibble on. To my delight, I discovered a combination of flavors that elevated this salad to an addictive level!
Now, this was just not any ordinary pizzeria – for full disclosure, it is a gourmet one in my neighborhood that we frequent on special occasions – so I did expect a good salad. Its just that I did not expect it to be so much better than the ones I make at home. The dressing was briny, cheesy, tangy and peppery …the layers were so complex that I could not stop reaching out for another piece of lettuce. With each bite I discovered yet another refreshing explosion of flavor…
I was floored. Was it possible that I had actually discovered a dressing that made a salad as addictive as fries?
Was it possible to duplicate this at home?
Could I have this every single day, right at home without going broke?
Thus, started my quest for the perfect Caesar salad recipe.
But first – some background. Like the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe I posted earlier, Caesar salad is also a classic “Italian” recipe that is associated with Italian food which did not originate in Italy. In fact, the classic Caesar salad was invented by Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who operated restaurants in Tijuana and San Diego. Like all good recipes, it was invented in a moment of need – Cardini having run out of supplies, needed to come up with a dressing with what he had right there in the kitchen – and thus, the Caesar salad, on a date none other than July 4th 1924, was born. According to Rosa, Cardini’s daughter, the original salad was meant to be served with whole lettuce leaves, each leaf, individually lifted and eaten with fingers. The modern recipe presented here is slightly different from the original one in that it includes anchovies, an ingredient that Cardini did not like to use in salads. Additionally, in this recipe, we use mayonnaise in lieu of raw eggs.
The recipe for Caesar salad remains very simple, but you do need to know a few tricks which makes a world of difference. The tips and tricks are in the recipe notes as usual, so please take a quick look before beginning..
Served with freshly baked crusty Italian bread and succulent roasted chicken, this delicious salad can easily be transformed from an appetizer to a tasty meal. The salad also adds a crunchy, lemony cheesy layer in sandwiches and because of the firmer romaine lettuce, travels particularly well, and is a fantastic take along meal for picnics or work. This amazing Caesar dressing recipe is adapted from epicurious.
Wine Pairing: It is very tricky to match Caesar salad with wine due to the strong flavors of cheese, anchovies, garlic and lemon. That being said, a chilled, dry white bordeaux such as a Sauvignon Blanc or un-oaked chardonnay pairs best with this dish because the acidity helps cut through the creamy dressing making each bite taste fresher.
Caesar Mayonnaise Dressing
- 2 small garlic cloves, grated
- 1 tsp anchovy paste
- 2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiana
- 1/2 loaf Italian bread
- 3 heads rommaine lettuce
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
Bake the Crotons
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Discard the crusts and cut into bite sized pieces. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Let cool.
Make the Dressing
- Add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the salad
- Cut the lettuce into thick slivers or keep whole.
- Toss the salad with the dressing. Arrange into plates and top with croutons. Serve immediately.