Thursday, November 24, 2011

simple caesar salad

I think a lot of people feel intimidated about making their own caesar salad at home. They'll buy a bottle of Kraft dressing or a caesar salad kit. It's obviously a pretty common side order when eating out, too. Here's what most people don't know: once you taste caesar salad dressing from scratch, you will swear off the bottle. You will swear off the kit. You will only ever make it from scratch from this day forward.

Think it's hard? Are you a little bit scared? Don't be. It's easy. I used to go through all that nonsense of coddling eggs, but you don't have to. This is a simple recipe that relies on good quality ingredients for its classic lemony and cheesy taste.

Tips: Caesar salad is always better in a nice wooden bowl, especially if it is old and well-seasoned. See that bowl up there? I'm pretty sure it's older than I am. My mom was threatening to give it away to a thrift shop and even though it's huge, I shipped it across the country when I moved to Montreal. If you don't have a wooden bowl, your salad will still be great. I can't even explain the difference. In fact, I'd say it was psychological if a Google search didn't indicate that everyone else recommends a wooden bowl, too.

If you prefer a creamier caesar, you could sub out some of the oil for mayonnaise. This is also very nice. You might also note the lack of anchovies here - well, I think they're gross. If I see them and smell them, all bets are off, so I don't put them in. I'm sure I'm not alone. As far as croutons go, I like them kind of like toast. Crunchy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside. I know it's weird and you can do your croutons however you want - I think most people put them on a baking tray in the oven on low heat to dry them out. I fry them up in about 2 tablespoons of salad dressing. Whatever floats your boat. And finally... I know you're supposed to tear up your lettuce leaves. I chopped them - for a dinner alone at home, I don't think it matters. I'm not Gordon Ramsay, after all.

Of course, you can make as salad as you want, but bear in mind that this recipe makes just under a cup of dressing, so you'll likely have some left over. Or not, if you're feeding an army!

simple caesar salad

1-2 cloves garlic, halved (or finely minced if you prefer to put it directly in the dressing)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or good quality canola oil, such as Becel)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (don't cheap out on this - get the properly aged reggiano), plus extra for sprinkling (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn up

  • Rub the halved garlic cloves around the inside of the salad bowl.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, canola oil, dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup parmesan, salt and pepper.
  • In your salad bowl throw together your lettuce and your croutons.
  • Add salad dressing and toss, then sprinkle more parmesan on if you're a cheese fiend!

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