Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Damn Good Caesar Salad

A couple weeks ago, my friend Bill texted me after he got back from vacation the following: "Picked up a great pinot in Napa.  It needs dinner."  Or words to that effect.  Bill has always had a way of just getting to the point- ever since I met him when we were in kindergarten at Weller Elementary.  I was leaving town the following day, so I needed something fast an easy to make.  I threw together a quick pasta dish and a homemade Caesar salad.  After we'd finished (and I mean FINISHED) the salad, we moved onto the pasta and I asked him how it tasted.  His response was typical Bill:  "Eh, the pasta was pretty good.  But that Caesar salad was unbelievable!  Is there any left?"  Leave it to Bill to hand me the perfect backhanded compliment.

It's ok because I already knew the pasta was, eh, fine...and the Caesar was unbelievable.  Caesar salad is one of those foods that when it's bad, it's really bad, and when it's good, you clean your plate!  And you can use it as a starter or as a main course with the addition of grilled chicken or salmon. 

The secret is really no secret at all- it's all in a great dressing.  Now, some people swear that in order to make Caesar dressing, you have to use raw egg yolk and drizzle in olive oil.  I disagree.  While I love the classic recipe, it breaks one of my cardinal rules of cooking:  it's fussy.  I don't like separating egg yolks.  It's messy and it takes time, and I almost never remember to use up the whites.  And since it seems that at least one of my friends is pregnant at any given time, they're hesitant to consume raw eggs.  My solution is simple:  use good mayonnaise instead.  All mayo consists of is eggs, oil, and vinegar.  Everything you need is already in there!   Fussy problem solved!  Add freshly-grated Parmesan and easy homemade croutons and you got yourself a perfect salad.

Here's the recipe!

The Perfect Caesar Salad

The Perfect Caesar Salad Dressing

2 c. mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground pepper
4-5 anchovy fillets
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Whir up the first 5 ingredients in a food processor.  Add the grated Parmesan cheese and pulse until blended. (I find that I don't need to add salt, because the anchovies and Parmesan are already pretty salty.  If you're making this vegetarian, check the salt and add a pinch if you need it).  This dressing will keep in the fridge for up to a week or so.

Homemade Croutons

Cube bread in roughly 3/4 inch pieces.  For every 1 cup of bread cubes, use one teaspoon of olive oil.  Toss bread cubes with olive oil, and a generous dash of kosher salt and several grinds of pepper.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, tossing once halfway through.  Allow to cool.

Add as much or as little of the dressing as you like to fresh Romaine lettuce, grate a little extra Parmesan cheese and add the homemade croutons. Toss and enjoy!   

xo H


Bill Pearson said...

Did the Pinot make the Salad or the Salad make the Pinot?

Heidi said...

I think the salad stands alone. But you brought a damn good Pinot, too.

redhotmama said...

Heidi - Sounds like you've outdone yourself again.....gonna try it this weekend!

JenH said...

I'm going to make this next week for the John Deere exec river trip. Hope is screwup proof!