Once upon a time, we used to only eat Caesar salads at a restaurant. Granted, it’s not the healthiest salad ever invented. But with the right meal, it can’t be beat.
It was originally a dish famously prepared only at tableside in Caesar Cardini’s restaurant, Tijuana 1924.
But there are easier ways.
Normally, maybe with the exception of needing a head of romaine lettuce, I can make this out of the refrigerator and pantry on a moment’s notice. Sometimes I have the lettuce on hand, sometimes I don’t.
Bottled Caesar dressing? If you’ve been reading my recipes for even a little while, you probably saw this coming. I’ve read the labels.
The biggest disappointment for me personally is the Cardini’s brand original Caesar dressing. This should be the good stuff, right? He invented it almost one hundred years ago now. But including Xanthan gum, corn syrup, sugar, caramel color, and natural flavors cross it off my list. I know the company has long ago passed into multi-tiered corporate hands, but still.
Whole Foods Organic? It is organic, true enough, but molasses, sugar, Xanthan gum, ginger oil, chili peppers, gum arabic, and spice extract leave too many unanswered questions for me.
Kraft’s ingredients include sodium lactate, phosphoric acid, molasses, Xanthan gum, corn syrup, modified food starch, buttermilk, sodium phosphate, autolyzed yeast extract, defatted soy flour, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, natural flavor, caramel color, vitamin E, and Natamycin.
You get the idea. Cost, nutritive value, taste? No, just convenience. Be aware.
By the way, my own mea culpa, the original recipe for Caesar salad includes coddled egg. I’ve made it that way and it didn’t add anything for me. I never said we have to be one hundred percent true to the originals (obviously), but good simple ingredients make cooking delicious food so much easier.
I start with a basic mayonnaise, similar to my everyday recipe. Whisk an egg yolk (room temperature) and some Dijon together. While whisking away, slowly drizzle in half a cup of good olive oil. This is the base of the dressing — the rest of the ingredients add flavor.
Add the Worcestershire, minced anchovies, grated parmesan, kosher salt, lemon juice, and white vinegar.
Taste it. Add more Worcestershire, salt, vinegar, or lemon juice if you think it needs it. Unless you’re using the exact same brands of everything I am here, yours will probably taste a little different. Recipes are a guide.
- Okay, you don’t like anchovies. I didn’t use to either. My only experience with them was on a misguided pizza adventure when I was young and, well, enough said about that. The more I started cooking, however, the more I found myself using them. Good ones, packed in olive oil. They’re not expensive. But like so many of our ingredients, it pays to avoid the bad ones.
- If you don’t want to spend the time whisking, you can easily make this in a small food processor like this one I use sometimes.
- Dress the salad as close to serving time as you can. Any lettuce soaking in any dressing over time starts to get soggy. Use cold lettuce, a cold salad bowl, and cold salad plates and you’ll buy yourself some time. There’s a reason it comes out cold at a restaurant!
Toss with the torn up lettuce, croutons, and remaining parmesan. Use only as much dressing as you like on your salad! This recipe makes approximately enough for two heads of romaine. The dressing will keep, sealed up and refrigerated, for up to a week. In a jar, not on a salad.
Some people also like a few grinds of black pepper over top — you do you.
And yes, those are really my salad spoons. This is Suppertime Blues, after all :).
Caesar Salad is quick and easy to make at home. And as a start to supper, it can be the perfect from-the-pantry answer. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
- 2 heads romaine lettuce
- 1 cup croutons
- 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (Use less if table salt.)
- 1 tablespoon parmesan, grated
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 2-3 anchovy fillets, minced (optional)
Wash the romaine leaves, tear into pieces, remove the big stems. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel and refrigerate while making the rest of supper.
Make the dressing
Whisk the egg yolk and Dijon together in a bowl for a minute.
Drizzle in the olive oil, slowly, drops at a time while continuing to whisk. The result should be similar to a thick mayonnaise.
Add the Worcestershire, salt, tablespoon of parmesan, and anchovies (if using) and whisk to together well.
Finally, whisk in the lemon juice and vinegar.
Refrigerate until needed.
Right before serving, whisk in a tablespoon of cold water into the dressing and then toss with the lettuce, croutons, and 1/4 cup remaining parmesan. Serve immediately.
Suppertime quick and easy. Hard to beat that.