How to make a Classic Caesar Salad from scratch with a rich and tangy homemade Caesar dressing, parmesan cheese and hand-torn croutons.
When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure. ~Peter Marshall
Do you love a good Classic Caesar Salad? Me too! Sadly I am often disappointed when ordering one off a menu. Yet I still do it, ever hopeful for that bright and rich creamy dressing that perfectly compliments juicy crisp romaine hearts, perfectly toasty croutons, and pungent salty parmesan. Here is a recipe to satisfy those cravings. My non-vegetable eating son (who is this kid?) will eat a Caesar salad! So I happily keep it in the rotation.
There are many tweaks and slight variations to this traditional salad. Originally hailing from Tijuana where it was made tableside by Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who owned the restaurant in Mexico. It is said he created it on the fly one 4th of July as the kitchen supplies were depleted. Sometimes when under pressure, magic is made!
Before we get into it, be aware we are going for tradition, using anchovies and egg yolks. If that is not your thing, no problem! Here is a delicious vegan Caesar salad recipe you may prefer.
Quality is going to make the difference here up-leveling from just a salad to an amazing Caesar salad. Whole anchovies packed in olive oil, farm-fresh eggs if you can get them, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and make sure your olive oil tastes good! Making your own croutons is super easy and addicting!
Ingredients in Caesar Salad
- romaine lettuce
- garlic cloves
- anchovies or anchovy paste
- egg yolks
- lemon juice and lemon zest
- dijon mustard
- Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- parmesan cheese
How to make Caesar salad
- Make sure lettuce is completely dry and cold, this helps the dressing coat the romaine chunks. With wet lettuce, the dressing has a tendency to just slip off.
- Use day-old bread for croutons, hand-torn gives more rustic crags and places to soak up the flavor.
- In the dressing, salting the garlic first helps in break down and emulsify the garlic.
- Use high-quality olive oil.
- Go slow with adding the olive oil to the salad dressing, whisking in drop by drop.
If using a salad spinner, cut the romaine lettuce first and then rinse and spin in a salad spinner to dry. This can be done hours before. After spinning you can just put the whole spinner in the fridge. The lettuce gets extra crisp this way.
Alternatively, without a spinner, wash whole leaves before cutting, lay on a clean towel and blot dry. When prepping ahead, store in the fridge in a plastic bag or container with a towel to absorb any moisture.
Making croutons is an easy delicious way to use up old bread. A nice country loaf works great as well as does sourdough.
Bake croutons at 350 for about 20 minutes.
Into the garlic bowl, add egg yolks, lemon juice and zest, dijon, Worcestershire, and black pepper. Whisk together thoroughly.
Slowly drizzle olive oil into the mixture whisking all the while. Go little by little until the dressing is smooth and emulsified. Whisking by hand doesn’t take long, gives your arms a tiny work out and leaves a bit of texture in the dressing.
You can also make this in a food processor or blender if you want a super smooth dressing. Follow the same steps.
Grate parmesan cheese. Shave some shreds for garnishing the top.
Assemble the caesar salad
- Place chopped romaine in a bowl.
- Add dressing (you may not need all of it), grated parmesan, parsley, and a couple of handfuls of croutons.
- Toss together.
- Garnish with more croutons, parmesan shavings, and lemon slices. Add black pepper and salt to taste.
What to serve with Classic Caesar Salad
- Salmon with Braised French Lentils
- Citrus Baked Salmon with Kumquats and Fingerlings
- How to make Crispy Tofu
- Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken
- Hemp Crusted Tofu with Celeriac Puree
- Zucchini Lasagna
How to make a classic Caesar Salad with homemade Caesar dressing, parmesan cheese and hand-torn croutons.
For the Salad
- 2 medium sized heads of romaine lettuce, chopped, washed and dried (see notes)
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped Italian, flat leaf, parsley
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus some shaved for the top.
For the Croutons
For the Dressing
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 anchovies (or 3 teaspoons anchovy paste) (see notes)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional but elevates lemony tang)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons dijon
- 1/4 teaspoon worchesterchire sauce (optional! gives more depth)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil (see notes)
Make the croutons
- Hand tear or cut bread. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350, for 20 minutes or until crisp and golden. (see notes)
Make the Dressing
- Smash together garlic and salt until broken down and juicy.
- Add anchovies, mashing together with the garlic until a paste forms.
- Whisk in egg yolks, lemon juice and zest, dijon, worchestshire, and black pepper. Combine thoroughly.
- Dribble olive oil into the mixture whisking all the while, little by little until the dressing is smooth and emulsified.
Make the Salad
- Place chopped romaine in a bowl.
- Add dressing (you may not need all of it), grated parmesan, parsley and a couple handfuls of croutons.
- Toss together.
Keep sealed in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
Spin lettuce in a salad spinner to dry. This can be done hours before. After spinning you can just put the whole spinner in the fridge. The lettuce gets extra crisp this way. Alternatively, without a spinner, wash whole leaves before cutting, lay on a clean towel and blot dry. Store in a plastic bag or container with a towel to absorb any moisture.
Baking time for croutons will vary depending on the bread you use, a tighter crumb will take longer.
Anchovy paste has other ingredients added. For pure anchovy flavor use the filets, but either will work.
Substitute 1/4 cup mayo for egg yolks.
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