Ceasar Salad is near the top of my list of favorite lunch or side dish alternatives. I admit I am very picky about the way the dressing should taste so the solution to this problem is to make my own dressing. Simply put, some restaurants have very bad commercial Ceasar Salad Dressings! Others are heavenly! Some are too creamy others too liquid, too strong or too mild and the ones with excess of anchovy fillets…. well, I am not a big fan.
Ceasar Salad’s creation is attributed to Italian restauranteur Ceasar Cardini in his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico on 4th of July 1924. The story goes that he ran out of supplies and improvised with the ingredients at hand. The original recipe for the dressing includes eggs, olive oil, worcestershire sauce (which in part is made with anchovies), fresh garlic cloves and lemons but no anchovies, they were later added by “recipe revisionists”. The salad first appeared in the continental USA in the menu of a restaurant in Los Angeles, California in 1946 and the Cardini family registered a trademark in 1948. I remember when as a young girl in early 1980’s, I went on a cruise with my parents (the Galileo Galilei) through the Mediterranean, and for dinner the waiters would make the dressing tableside which added to the whole experience and drama of ordering Ceasar Salad. Originally, the leaves of the romaine lettuce were served whole in order to eat with your hands by grabbing through the stem and take a bite of the crisp lettuce covered with the dressing, croutons and shaved parmesan cheese. I coarsely chop the lettuce or you can tear it with your bare hands. Try making your own croutons with bread that is a few days old, it makes a big difference. Make sure the eggs you use are clean and to coddle them (cook them partially in hot water) before you use. Also, you may serve with grilled chicken strips, churrasco (skirt steak) or grilled shrimp to make it more hearty. I created my recipe by watching friends and family make their versions, reading cook books and magazines, and tasting Ceasar Salad Dressing in many restaurants. Here is my version of Ceasar Salad Dressing.
Ceasar Salad Dressing
2 eggs (cooked in very hot water but not boiling, for 1 minute)
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp anchovy paste (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 fresh garlic cloves (remove germ)
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
pepper to taste
1. Carefully place eggs in hot water (just below boiling point) for 1 minute. Take out of hot water and put under running cold water to stop cooking. Take out of shell scraping inside with small spoon.
2. In a blender or with a hand blender, beat eggs for about 30 seconds. Add anchovy paste, garlic cloves (remove germ for better taste and make sure they are fresh), worcestershire sauce, salt, mustard, pepper and lemon juice. Pulse until mixed.
3. With the machine on, start to pour olive oil in a steady stream. The result will be a creamy dressing. Store in a sealed dressing container in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Serve over romaine lettuce, croutons, chopped cilantro and top with shaved or grated fresh parmesan cheese.
Important note: There is potential risk of infection by salmonella bacteria occasionally found in raw egg from cracked or improperly washed eggshells.
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