Old School Caesar Salad


There is something splendidly decadent about a well-made Caesar salad. By a lot of people’s reckoning, it shouldn’t be a salad at all. It’s rich and dense, full-flavored, full bodied and all the things a salad mostly shouldn’t be.

As a result, the classic caesar tends to go in and out of fashion — like mini skirts and wedged soles — because as much as we tell ourselves we loathe it, there’s a part of us that just can’t get enough.

This is a creamy variation of caesar, my own favorite. It’s also a fast approach. Many recipes call for raw egg as you make the dressing, but I’ve encountered so many people who are unnerved at working with raw eggs. In any case, using the mayonnaise is a shortcut that provides a more than acceptable result.

Caesar Salad

For the croutons:

4 slices white bread or two dinner rolls, cubed
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
paprika, garlic powder, pepper, cumin or a popular spice blend: two teaspoons in total

Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add spice and toast briefly before adding bread. Saute until bread absorbs oil and browns. Set aside.

For the dressing:

4 large cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Djon mustard
1.5 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons mayonnaise or veganaise
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 light salad oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine garlic, mustard, vinegar, mayonnaise, anchovy paste and salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. While the processor is running, drizzle the oil into the bowl in a steady stream. Correct the seasoning.

For the salad:
1 large or 3 small heads romaine or cos lettuce
caesar salad dressing
shaved parmesan cheese
Prepare the lettuce. In a large salad bowl, combine lettuce with as much of the dressing as seems appropriate (dress to taste, is what I mean to say here) and the croutons. Top with shaved parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

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