Created by an Italian chef in Tijuana, Mexico around 1924, Caesar Salad is one of the great classic and well-loved salads. Found on almost every restaurant menu, it’s easy to forget that a great Caesar can be made at home. My favorite restaurant Caesar Salad is made at Gulfstream restaurant in Newport Beach and it’s after Gulfstream that I pattern my homemade Caesar Salad recipe.
Start with fresh, crisp Romaine leaves, drizzle on a creamy, garlicky homemade dressing and add fresh baked croutons from a few pieces of leftover bread. Add a few wisps of Parmesan curls and that’s about it. I like to add corn kernels for a bit of a twist, as Gulfstream does. Although not traditional, sometimes I’ll add other ingredients for color and visual appeal like a little finely chopped parsley, tiny diced red onion, even a few sliced grapeseed tomatoes. I think they make a traditional Caesar more interesting, but you can do as you please – goodies or not.
The best part of a Caesar Salad is the dressing. Nothing out of a bottle please. Get your blender out and whip up your own. Once you do, you’ll never use bottled dressing again. The best recipe I’ve found is from Chef Michael Chiarello, entrepreneur, Napa Valley restauranteur, Food Network star and cookbook author. When I made his Caesar dressing recipe I looked no further. It’s thick, creamy, and garlicky so it clings nicely to crisp Romaine leaves.
The original recipe calls for 6-8 anchovy filets. I prefer to use anchovy paste in a tube. If the thought of fishy anchovies in any form makes you scrunch up your face, try the tube stuff. Trust me. There is no fishy taste in the dressing. It adds a subtle richness and depth that would be missed. Nice thing is this dressing uses the power of the blender to emulsify it into a creamy rich dressing, so line up your ingredients and get out your blender. When making the dressing, add your oil in a thin, steady stream so it has a chance to come together and get thick. If it gets too thick, add a teaspoon or two of warm water to help liquefy the dressing. You can add as much as you need to gain the consistency you perfer, whether thick or thin.
About croutons. Once you’ve made homemade croutons you’ll never be tempted to use boxed or bagged versions again. And it’s a great thing to do with those last few pieces of bread at the end of a loaf. For crunchy, golden croutons, pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Using white or sourdough bread, trim off the crusts and cut the bread into approximately one inch cubes. I use one piece of bread for each person. Mix a little olive oil with granulated garlic in a bowl and toss the bread cubes with the oil-garlic mixture. You want them lightly coated, not soaked. Pour the bread cubes onto a metal rimmed baking sheet and toast until the croutons are golden and crunchy. You will just start to smell the garlic when they ready. They will get more crunchy as they cool. Set aside for your salad and use after they have cooled as warm croutons will wilt your salad. These are so good everyone will wander into the kitchen and want to snack on them before you can get the salad made, and any extra keep well…if there are any.
Note: As Caesar dressing uses raw egg yolks. Use only fresh, refrigerated, clean, high quality eggs with no cracks. You may also use pasteurized eggs. This recipe makes a fair amount of dressing so if you are making it for a smaller group it halves easily. It will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two but as it has the raw egg yolks you are better making smaller batches of fresh dressing that one big batch if you are not going to use it all.
To make this a main meal versus a side salad, add chicken or shrimp. Whether grilled, sautéed, roasted or broiled, either one is a great addition giving more sustenance to the salad.
Hail Caesar – Caesar Salad
Chef Michael Chiarello, Food Network website
This dressing is good and garlicky. If you are at all sensitive about garlic, start with half and add more to taste. This recipe doubles easily for big parties.
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups (about 12) servings at 2 tablespoons each
1 egg yolks
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon anchovy paste in a tube
1 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or more to taste (use organic as it has no HFCS)
1 cups extra virgin olive oil
Warm water as needed to get to the viscosity you want
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Place the egg yolk, mustard, anchovy paste, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce in a blender. Blend until pureed. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until it is fully incorporated. If the dressing stops moving in the blender, stop the machine, add a little warm water and then continue until all the oil is added. To finish, add the cheese and blend on low speed to incorporate.
To Complete Your Salad
Hearts of Romaine – figure one heart for 2-3 people depending on whether it’s a side salad or an entree salad. Use the whole leaves or slice the hearts across into 1 inch pieces.
Corn kernels – for color and a nice addition, about 1-2 tablespoons per person
Red onion, diced very fine – for some color
Fresh parsley, chopped fine – for some color
Grapeseed tomatoes, halved
Fresh Parmesan cheese – either a sprinkle of grated or using a vegetable peeler make curls off of a block of cheese
Subscribe via RSS or
This post contains links to Affiliate Programs, where I may receive a small commission for any purchases.