The Perfect Caesar Salad Recipe
Making a Great Caesar Salad
Our daughter loves Caesar salad recipes—she orders one every time she sees it on a restaurant menu, and we've experimented with several recipes to get her thumbs-up or thumbs-down.
We like salads in general because they make great leftover lunches, and all four of us need one for our work or school lunch. But Caesar salad recipes don't really make sense for a lunch unless you pack the greens and toppings in one container, the croutons in another, and the dressing in a third. Packing everything together means your lettuce will wilt and your croutons will be mush! And don't forget to tone the garlic down for a work lunch, or before a social gathering—you don't want to be breathing garlic on your workmates or friends!
It's important to coddle the eggs in Caesar salad recipes in order to kill any harmful bacteria such as salmonella that may be inside the egg (or may get into the egg from an improperly washed eggshell when you crack the egg). Coddling also helps give the dressing a creamier consistency, by cooking the egg just enough that it becomes less runny.
- 1/2 loaf unsliced whole wheat bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 egg, coddled for 60 seconds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of one medium to large lemon
- 3 garlic cloves (roasted beforehand if you want a milder taste)
- 3 tsp capers
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp hot mustard
- 1 large or two small heads romaine lettuce
- Flatten the first two garlic cloves with a chef's knife. Place in a skillet and sweat at low heat with the 1/4 cup of olive oil until the garlic sizzles for 30 seconds. Remove the garlic, turn the flame up slightly, and toss in the bread cubes, stirring quickly to coat all parts with the oil. (Don't leave any garlic behind - it will quickly brown and take on a burnt flavor.) Cook until the croutons are nicely toasted.
- Coddle the egg: place 2" of water in a small pot, bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Immediately place the whole egg in the pot, cover, let sit 45 seconds, then remove the egg.
- Add the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and parmesan to a wooden salad bowl. Whisk together briefly. Add the egg on top of this mixture. Add salt and a few twists of black pepper.
- Mince the third garlic clove and add to the other ingredients.
- Clean and dry the romaine lettuce, and break into pieces 2 or 3 inches on a side (too small increases the tendency of the salad to wilt, and too big is hard on your diners' mouths!). Remove any exceptionally thick spine sections unless you like a very crunchy salad.
- Whisk the dressing in the salad bowl briskly with an egg whisk or a wooden spoon, until the ingredients are well blended.
- Toss in the lettuce leaves and capers, and stir to coat with dressing.
- If you expect the entire salad to be eaten in one sitting, toss the croutons in with the salad. Otherwise, serve them in a separate dish and let people sprinkle their own croutons into their Caesar salad.
- Pasta Caesar salad: In its easiest form, all you have to do is cook a pound of pasta, and add that to the dressing at step 6 above, before you add the lettuce and croutons.
- Vegetarian Caesar salad: If you're trying to avoid eating anchovies, for ethical, environmental, allergy, or other reasons (maybe you think anchovies are cute), I'll let you in on a little secret: the anchovies are not essential in a Caesar salad. The anchovies provide some flavor but above all they provide salt, so you can take any of our Caesar salad recipes and skip the anchovies and up the salt to taste, and the flavor, while not quite as complex and not a purebred Caesar salad, should still be great. We used to use a tiny bit of anchovy in our Caesar salad recipes and store the rest in the refrigerator, and sometimes it would get forgotten in there long enough that we didn't want to risk using it again. We solve that problem in one of two ways: storing the remaining anchovies in the freezer (you can do this with ones that come in a jar); or buying anchovy paste, which keeps a lot longer in the refrigerator.
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© 2017 Martin