Created by an Italian chef in Tijuana, Mexico around 1924, Caesar Salad is one of the great classic salads. Well-loved, you'll find Caesar Salad on almost every restaurant menu. But don't just enjoy them at a restaurant. A great Caesar can be made at home. Here is my recipe for a good and garlicky Caesar salad. It's all about that dressing.
Homemade Caesar Salad
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. 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.
To make this an entree versus a side salad, add chicken or shrimp. Whether grilled, sautéed, roasted or broiled, either one is a great addition to the salad.
Great Caesar Dressing
The best part of this garlicky Caesar salad is the dressing. Nothing out of a bottle please. Get your blender out and whip up your own to top your homemade Caesar salad. Once you do, you’ll never use bottled dressing again. You can also make it by hand with a whisk and a little arm action. This dressing is thick, creamy, and garlicky so it clings nicely to crisp Romaine leaves. If it gets too thick, add a little water.
While anchovy filet is often used in the dressing recipe, I use anchovy paste in a tube. If the thought of fishy anchovies makes you gag, 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. But you can always skip it, it's up to you.
This dressing recipes makes enough for 4 servings at 2 tablespoons per person. I kept the batch small as it uses raw egg yolk. For a larger crowd, it doubles easily. For any leftovers, use within a few days to be safe, and use only clean, crack-free eggs.
Once you’ve made homemade croutons you’ll never 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. For gluten-free, make them with GF bread. Here is a good one!
- 3-5 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 raw egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon anchovy paste in a tube optional
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce look for no HFCS, or more to taste
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
- water to thin if needed
- 3-4 hearts of Romaine if using mini hearts, purchase 1 per person, either whole leaf or chopped into thin pieces crosswise
- ¼ cup corn kernels
- 1 ½ tablespoons red onion chopped very fine
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped fine – for some color
- 8 grapeseed tomatoes halved
- ¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- homemade croutons
- 3-4 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
- Place the lemon juice egg yolk, mustard, anchovy paste, garlic, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce in a blender container and puree on lowest speed for a few seconds to blend.
- With the blender top on and the center top removed, slowly stream the oil into the blender until dressing is thick, creamy and emulsified. Add the Parmesan and pureed until creamy. If the dressing is to thick, add either a little more lemon juice or warm water to make it the consistency you prefer.