Still in a post-holiday salad mode… I enjoy all manner of fresh green salads but a really well made classic Caesar is my favorite. Compared to many salad dressings a Caesar salad can be lower in fat than most tossed green salads.
The exact recipe for the first Caesar salad is surrounded in legend. There are many great recipes for a Caesar Salad. The common denominator for most of them includes romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, garlic and croutons. Anchovies and a coddled (soft boiled) egg also frequently appear, especially in my Caesar salads. Black pepper, Dijon mustard, wine vinegar, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce all show up in many very good variations.
The size of the pieces of the romaine lettuce can vary from composing the salad with whole, uncut leaves, using only the tender hearts, to cutting the leaves into smaller, more manageable pieces (many expensive restaurants insist on serving the salad with whole leaves, pretty, but requires some work on the part of the diner to eat gracefully). Homemade croutons are especially nice but once again, many fine restaurants love serving croutons that are sometimes so large (and hard) caution must be used to avoid damage to one’s soft palate and dental work.
A Caesar salad is easily turned into a main dish by adding grilled meats or seafood. Salmon or thinly sliced rare grilled tri-tip are my top choices.
This is my preferred Caesar salad variation; the recipe will serve two.
1 medium head romaine lettuce washed & dried
1 coddled egg (method follows, see below)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small clove fresh garlic, mashed
½ teaspoon sea or kosher salt
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup grated or shaved parmesan cheese
freshly ground coarse black pepper
croutons (good quality store-bought or home made)
4-6 good quality whole anchovies for garnish
In the bottom of a large salad bowl mash the garlic clove with the salt to make a puree. With a fork combine the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and olive oil.
Remove the coarse outer leaves of the lettuce and cut or tear into desired size pieces and place on top on the garlic mixture.
Gently scoop the egg from its shell and place on top of the lettuce and toss everything very well to break up the egg and coat all of the lettuce leaves with the dressing. Add the croutons and half of the parmesan cheese, toss again. Place the anchovies on top and serve with lots of freshly cracked black pepper over all. Serve right away.
To coddle an egg: Place a very fresh egg in a saucepan and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil over high heat and remove from the heat. Let stand in the hot water for one minute. Carefully crack the egg over a small bowl and with a teaspoon scoop the semi-liquid egg out to use in a Caesar salad. If serving eggs that are not completely cooked is of concern the egg can be omitted. Increase the olive oil by 1 tablespoon.