Dish of the Week: Caesar Salad (w/ Homemade Croutons & Dressing)
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.
This week, we're sharing a recipe for the classic Caesar salad.
Often prepared table-side, Caesar salad is made of romaine lettuce and croutons tossed with a simple dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, egg yolk, anchovy, parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, black pepper and (sometimes) anchovy.
Despite what one may think, the salad was not created by Julius Caesar. Instead, it is said to have been invented by Italian-born restaurateur Caesar (Cesare) Cardini, who emigrated to the U.S. and opened a restaurant named Caesar's. In 1924, Cardini created the dish during a rush that hit the restaurant's kitchen supplies hard. He used whatever he had on hand and added flair to the dish by preparing it table-side. Pretty soon, Caesar salad was a hit. Even the famed Julia Child recalls eating the restaurant's namesake salad when she was a child in the 1920s.
Savory, crunchy, cheesy, salty and rich without compromising its light, fresh flavor, we get why Caesar salad is so popular. Thankfully, making a homemade Caesar dressing is incredibly easy and about ten times tastier that any store-bought variety.
This recipe, from Serious Eats, uses anchovies and a mix of extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil to make an incredibly delicious and savory dressing. Though Cardini's original salad did not contain anchovies, the addition brings a great briny flavor to the dressing. Homemade croutons are another must.
Classic Caesar Salad
Ingredients serves 4 3 tbsp plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons) 3 cups hearty bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes 2 oz finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup), divided Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 egg yolk 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 2 to 6 anchovies (or sub a squeeze of anchovy paste) 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce 1/3 cup canola oil 2 heads romaine lettuce, inner leaves only, washed and carefully dried, large leaves torn into smaller pieces, smaller leaves left intact
To make the croutons: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons olive oil with minced garlic and whisk for 30 seconds. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl and press with the back of a spoon to extract as much oil as possible, leaving garlic behind. Reserve pressed garlic separately. Add bread cubes to garlic oil and toss to coat. Add 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss again. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until croutons are pale golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and toss with 2 more tablespoons Parmesan. Allow to cool.
To make the dressing: Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, reserved pressed garlic and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese in a food processor. With blender or processor running, slowly drizzle in canola oil until a smooth emulsion forms. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil.* Season to taste generously with salt and pepper. *Whisking in the extra-virgin olive oil instead of blending it helps to keep the oil from breaking down and turning bitter.
To serve: Toss lettuce with a few tablespoons of dressing, adding more if desired. Once coated, add half of remaining cheese and 3/4 of croutons and toss again. Transfer to salad bowl and sprinkle with remaining cheese and croutons. Serve.
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