Cesar Salad

I’ve been reluctant to post this.

In fact I’m kind of reluctant to make Cesars, period. However it was strongly suggested I do so, as some would hold that this, for me, is a so called ‘signature dish’.

I feel I have moved on from there – years ago. But such is life, and with a sigh, I haul it out and present it here, with a few photos.

My own learning about Cesars came many years ago hearing it described on the radio. The underlying idea (of the dressing that is – the heart of the salad, really) is the method of adding ingredients one at a time, from smallest to largest, driest to wettest, culminating with the acid (lemon juice) and oil (olive).

My Cesar is pretty close to the original Cardini recipe – the Wikipedia article covers this well, though I do start off with mustard and add in basil, thyme and oregano. I do not use bacon bits or anchovies, and I do like nice big grates of parmesan.

This recipe, in combination with the Pizza recipe, can give you dinner in an hour assuming you have croutons already on hand.

Cesar salad

Ingredients

Dressing

dressing mise en place

dressing mise en place

1 tbs Dijon mustard
3 tbs grated Parmesan
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1/8-1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 big clove of fresh garlic, crushed in a garlic press
several shakes of hot sauce (Tabasco or your own)
1 egg
juice from half lemon
1 cup olive oil

Crutons

Bread – about 2-3 medium to thick slices
2 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove
1-2 pinches of salt

The salad

Romaine lettuce up to 1 head depending on the size
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
Fresh Parmesan grated in big slivers
Croutons

Method

Dressing

The earlier you can make this, the better. But it is the first thing you should do.

  1. Mix/whisk the ingredients one at a time, in the same order suggested in the ingredients list.
  2. Add the olive oil last, whisking it in slowly. It will emulsify easily, and if you are too vigorous, too slow, you will end up with Cesar mayonnaise – not a bad thing at all – a delicious dip in fact.

    Whisk in olive oil slowly. But not too slowly.

    Whisk in olive oil slowly. But not too slowly.

Leave the dressing to the side so the flavours can combine.

Croutons

I almost always have some croutons already made. Whenever I make bread, I’ll do something with the last few slices left over: thin slice, slather with garlic or mustard and put in dehydrator to make drybread crackers, or dry and grind into breadcrumbs, or make croutons.

  1. Heat olive oil in pan, add a crushed garlic clove and salt
  2. Add bread chopped into small squares, turn the heat to lowest. cook at lowest heat, no lid on, stirring occasionally until they have reached the desired crunchiness  – usually about an hour.

The salad

  1. Wash and cut romaine lettuce
  2. Thin slice a quarter of a medium red onion
  3. Combine and mix
  4. Coarsely grate fresh Parmesan cheese over top
  5. Add the croutons and dressing immediately before serving. If you add the croutons too early they will absorb the water from the lettuce and onions and become nasty and mushy.
Done but for mixing croutons and dressing

Done but for mixing croutons and dressing

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