So. Much. Garlic. Seriously, if you and garlic don’t get along, stop reading here.
This is by far my family’s favorite salad. We don’t have many ‘family recipes’ but now that I think about it, all the ones we do have are all loaded with garlic. (Shrimp mosca anyone?) This caesar salad shows up at Thanksgiving, at Christmas, at New Years. It shows up at Easter and the Fourth of July. This fall, my aunt made an enormous batch every week for my cousin’s football team…talk about a lot of garlic. The trick to enjoying this salad, by the way, is that you must not be the only one enjoying it. If you choose to go it alone, you might find that suddenly none of your friends want to sit by you. Just saying.
It might take a few more minutes to whip up a batch of caesar salad dressing than your typical vinaigrette, but trust me when I say that it is SO worth it. Another thing that’s totally worth it? Homemade croutons. Just throw them in the oven before you start making the dressing, and they’ll be done before you’re even ready to get out the lettuce. Easy peasy. If you’re entertaining, you can make both the dressing and the croutons ahead of time, and dress the salad right before you serve it.
When it comes to lettuce, I usually go for romaine hearts because I like a nice crunch under this creamy dressing. Regular romaine also works. Most of the time, I whip this up in my vitamix, and don’t even grate the cheese first. If you aren’t sure about the power of your blender, or are going to mix the dressing by hand, grate the cheese as small as you can to ensure that it mixes in well and you’re left with a smooth texture. Anchovies are optional. I like the salty, savory flavor they add to the dressing, and don’t think they taste fishy at all. My mom loves them. My aunt leaves them out. Either way, your salad will be delicious!
- 1 head romain lettuce or 2 romain hearts
- 1/3-2/3 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups finely grated parmesan cheese (about 3 oz) plus 1/2 cup for croutons and garnish
- 1 egg yolk
- 4 cloves garlic (slightly crushed)
- 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon
- 2 anchovy fillets (optional)
- 1/2 loaf french bread
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
- In a very small sauce pan combine 1/3 cup olive oil, two crushed cloves of garlic, and a generous pinch of salt in a very small sauce pan. Set over the lowest heat until it just comes to a simmer, remove, and set aside.
- Cut french bread into bite sized cubes and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with prepared olive oil, one tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly, until bread is evenly but very lightly coated. Be careful not to soak the bread. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and grate a few tablespoons of parmesan cheese over the croutons, sprinkle with salt, and return to the oven for an additional 4-5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- In a blender or food processor, combine 1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese, the two cloves of garlic from the olive oil, two fresh cloves of garlic, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, egg yolk and anchovy fillets and blend until smooth.
- Slowly add the remaining olive oil from the croutons (it should be cool by now). If necessary, add up to another 1/3 cup of olive oil. The dressing should be smooth, but still thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl combine 3-4 tablespoons of dressing with the romaine lettuce and toss until the leaves are well coated. Top with croutons, freshly ground pepper, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.