Aida has been insanely adorable lately, almost like she’s in back in feisty puppy mode again. Even now she’s wedging her little head between my arms and the keyboard with a rubber chicken wedged in her mouth, ready to play. Maybe it’s the new three-times-a-day feeding schedule we’ve started or possibly she’s as happy as we are that the crisp, cool weather of fall has set in. Either way, we’re happy, if she’s happy.
I realize that it is absolutely impossible for most people to make everything from scratch, but I think Caesar dressing should be on the always-make-at-home list because bottled caesar is just not the same. There are countless recipes for Caesar on the internet, it’s just a matter of finding the one that suits your tastes. This is ours.
I sub in mayonnaise for egg yolks in my dressing, but if the Caesar purist in you prefers to use yolks, there is also an egg alternative at the bottom along with directions for coddling or partially cooking the yolk prior to using. If you do decide to use egg yolks, the coddling process will help to slightly thicken the yolk and give you a creamier dressing.
Caesar Salad with Homemade Garlic CroutonsAdapted, quite a bit, from Cooks Illustrated Will serve up to 4. Add a protein of choice to make this a light meal; plan on about 6 ounces of protein per person. Steak tips, chicken, salmon, or shrimp are all fantastic options.
Garlic Croutons2 large garlic cloves, minced (or microplane) 1/4 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 3 cups 3/4-inch to 1-inch bread cubes from baguette or rustic loaf fresh ground pepper
Dressing1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice, about 1 lemon 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional) 1 medium garlic clove, minced (or microplane) 4 anchovy fillets, minced to a paste or 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 1/4 teaspoon salt 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons mayonnaise* 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
Salad2 medium heads romaine or 2 large romaine hearts 1/4 cup coarse grated parmesan or pecorino Romano
Place oven rack in middle of oven, and heat to 350 degrees F. Mix garlic, salt and olive oil in a small bowl or cup; let rest for 10 to 20 minutes. Carefully pour just the oil into medium bowl (or use fine mesh strainer to catch garlic). Add bread cubes to bowl and toss. Spread onto baking sheet and bake 12 to 15 minutes stirring occasionally until golden. Add fresh ground black pepper to taste. Cool on sheet to room temperature.
Combine lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon, garlic, anchovy, black pepper and salt with whisk or immersion blender. While constantly whisking (or blending) slowly drizzle in olive oil. Gently whisk in mayonnaise and cheese just to combine. Adjust seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 1 cup.
Tear or cut lettuce into bit size pieces. Wash and then spin dry with salad spinner. In a large bowl, toss with about 2/3 of dressing and cheese. Add remaining dressing to taste. Divide salad evenly onto serving plates. Top with croutons and protein of choice, if using.
* Traditional Caesar salad uses egg yolks. To use egg yolks instead of mayonnaise you will need two eggs, and 3 additional tablespoons of olive oil. To coddle the eggs before using the yolks, add to a small sauce pan filled with 2 inches of boiling water. Very gently add eggs to water and boil for 45 seconds and then remove with a spoon. When cool enough to handle, crack eggs and reserve yolks. Add yolks at the start of the dressing along with lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon, garlic, anchovy, black pepper and salt.