Food historians write that the original Caesar Salad was created by the Italian immigrant Caesar Cardini, (not Julius Caesar), who operated restaurants in both Mexico and California. Julia Child writes that she ate a Caesar Salad at the San Diego restaurant as a child in the 1920’s. Later, she would devote a whole television program to the preparation of this classic salad, which in many restaurants if often dramatically assembled tableside.
The original recipe for Caesar dressing did not use anchovies, relying instead upon Worcestershire sauce for it’s distinctive flavor. In our family, because we enjoy these tiny, silvery, salt-cured and canned fish, I add them to the dressing. Another variation is in the use of a raw egg. Due to health concerns over bacterial contamination, “coddling”, or gently cooking, the egg is recommended.
The classic dressing preparation is to mash the garlic with a mortar and pestle, and slowly create an emulsion by vigorous whisking. I’ve tried that method, but still like using my blender the best. A nice, crisp crouton is key, as croutons from squishy, soft bread disintegrate into slime when dressed.
This savory salad makes a nice luncheon, and adapts to many additions like grilled chicken, rabbit or shrimp. To add more vegetables, I’ve grated roots like carrots, beets, and turnip and tossed them with the garlic-infused dressing. This is a simple recipe where fresh cheese and high quality olive oil really shine.
For the dressing:
- 1 egg coddled *
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 anchovies or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Dash Worcestershire sauce
- sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
For the salad:
- 1 head Romaine lettuce washed and torn into pieces
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup croutons homemade taste best
- To coddle an egg, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the egg, and boil for one minute. Remove egg from pan and allow to cool. Peel and use in dressing.
- To prepare the dressing: Mash the garlic cloves with the anchovies. Whisk in the coddled egg, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking vigorously until an emulsion is formed. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper. Or, if you have a blender, combine garlic, anchovies, egg, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce in the bowl of your blender. While running the blender, slowly add the olive oil and blend until the dressing is emulsified. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper.
- To prepare the salad: Dribble about ½ the dressing on the side on a wooden salad bowl. Add the lettuce and toss to coat. Taste a leaf, and add more dressing if needed, tossing to coat. Toss briefly with the cheese and finally with the croutons.
- Makes four servings.