I’ve searched the archives here at DelSo and was shocked to find no evidence that we’ve ever talked about Caesar Salad – shocked, I tell you. In the warmer months, I’m inclined to have more delicate greens as my salad of choice – or simply tomatoes, but in the cold months I want something a bit more hearty, something with a more aggressive flavor and Caesar Salad is frequently my go to choice.
I like my Caesar Salad (CS) to be strongly flavored, yet balanced. I don’t want one that is insipid nor do I want one that has too much lemon or too little anchovy. I guess that makes me kind of picky. I’m not impossible to please, however, and I’ve been more than satisfied with CS at a number of local restaurants including Yono’s, Creo, Cafe Capriccio, McGuire’s and the Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark. I generally prefer the more common dark anchovy, but honestly I have never met an anchovy I didn’t like, so the white ones are okay by me, too.
As with most of my recipes, this one is a bastardization, but really, would you expect anything less from me? I admire folks who have an interest in coddling eggs, but I’ve got three boys at home who often exhaust my capacity for coddling, thus, no egg. And for some reason Worcestershire Sauce has never found a place in my pantry – that may change in the future, but for right now it isn’t there. I have a special bowl I like to use when making my salad – it is metal and was a gift from my mother-in-law. For whatever reason, I find it to be the perfect bowl, similar to my perfect roasting pan. I start by adding a little less than a 1/4 cup of good olive oil. Next, I toss in maybe 2 or 3 minced garlic cloves and a generous squeeze of anchovy paste, perhaps 3″ from a tube. I like to combine these ingredients with a fork just until they’re blended. My final ingredient to the dressing is fresh lemon juice – about a 1/2 lemon’s worth, which I again incorporate with my fork. I add, in small batches, about a head and a half of romaine which has been cut into 2-3″ pieces. I try to gently fold the lettuce into the dressing, making sure to distribute the oily goodness to every leaf. Once the dressing is lightly coating each piece of romaine (add more romaine if it seems too oily) I generously grate a mess of fresh Parmesan on the salad, again gently folding to ensure that the cheese is present in every single bite. Plate and then finish with coarse black pepper. And keep some breath mints handy if you’re planning to get up close with folks who have not been fortunate enough to join you in your CS respite. No reason to alienate them anymore than you already have by not sharing all this deliciousness with them.