It’s a balmy 90F. Who wants to cook? We say, bring on the cold salad, and while you’re at it, make it a Caesar—brimming with savory cheese, crispy croutons and cool, refreshing lettuce.
First created by Chef Caesar Cardini at his small hotel in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1924, the classic Caesar has a few basic ingredients: romaine lettuce, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and croutons. Cardini had a few rules for his creation: he never mixed the dressing ahead of time, and nothing was measured, so the salad took on the qualities of a spontaneous work of art, often tossed table-side.
But whether it’s performance art or simply a way to get dinner on the table, one thing remains certain: You’ll want to use a hearty lettuce like romaine. Be sure to wash and dry it well, then pop it in the fridge to crisp. Once it’s cold and dry, the lettuce will hold the dressing, so that each bite of salad carries the tangy, almost savory taste of creamy dressing.
Classic Caesar Salad
Garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, eggs and Parmesan cheese are the basis of a good Caesar Salad. We’ve avoided the pesky “raw egg” issue by using mayonnaise in its place.
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 anchovy filets, rinsed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Croutons and Salad:
8 ounces ciabatta or focaccia bread, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 heads romaine lettuce, washed, dried and cut crosswise into 1-inch wide strips
1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional)
1. To prepare dressing, combine garlic and next 7 ingredients (garlic through black pepper) in a food processor and blend 30 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl with a spatula and blend 10 seconds more. Add salt. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 week.
2. To prepare croutons, arrange bread slices on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and granulated garlic. Toast under a hot broiler, in a pan over medium heat, or on a hot grill until golden brown.
3. Place lettuce in a large salad bowl. Add just enough dressing to coat and toss well. Add shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, if using, and croutons. Serves 8 as a side or 4 as a main dish.
Per main dish serving (using half the dressing): 360 calories, 21g fat, 10mg chol., 10g prot., 37g carbs., 8g fiber, 700mg sodium
Photo by Mark Boughton Photography/ Styling: Teresa Blackburn