This is not your purist’s approach to this dish, and it is heavy on the anchovy – perhaps not a ‘First Date’ salad… unless of course you both revel in the beautiful stinkyness of tiny, salty fish. I don’t recall how I came to start making Caesar salad this way, but it has stuck. Hope it’s sticks in your repertoire as well.
FOR THE CROUTONS:
2 cups sourdough bread or any style bread, cubed
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably coarse
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
olive oil for drizzling
FOR THE DRESSING:
1 3.5 ounce jar or can of anchovy fillets in oil, drained
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup or more extra virgin olive oil (amount explained below)
1/2 cup or more lemon juice, about 1 to 2 big, juicy lemons
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 heads of Romaine lettuce
4 ounces plus Parmesan
1. Preheat your (toaster) oven to 350°. Place the cubed bread into a bowl and drizzle the olive oil while gently stirring. Add spices and stir again. Spread the seasoned bread crumbs in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Taste
2. Drain the oil from the jar or can of anchovies (preferably not down the sink – or add to your pet’s food for a tasty treat). Place the anchovies in a small pot and pour in olive oil just enough to cover. I like to use a more robust oil to match the intenseness of the fish.
3. Give each garlic clove a gentle bash with the side of your chef knife. Peel and plop the garlic into the pot. You may choose to mince the garlic and then add it, for a more garlicy taste. Gently simmer the oil for about 6 minutes on low. Please do not allow the oil to boil as it will turn the anchovies into jerky. Let cool. Discard garlic cloves.
4. While the oil is simmering, chop, wash and spin your lettuce. In a small bowl, squeeze the juice of one lemon. Slowly pour in oil mixture into the lemon bowl while whisking vigorously. Add more lemon juice to taste. Salt and pepper. Taste with crouton or piece of lettuce for seasoning.
5. Plate the lettuce into bowls. Using a peeler grate the Parmesan over the lettuce, add a handful of croutons and spoon enough dressing to coat making sure you scoop up anchovies with your drizzle.
The history and origin of Caesar salad is cloudy; some have even suggested it’s creation was directly related to Julius Caesar, the controversial Roman leader. Slightly less well known, and more likely the creator of this dish was Caesar Cardini originally from Italy. The confusion of THE real inventor doesn’t stop there. Cardini and his business partner had a restaurant in Tijuana, MX (choosing Mexico over the U.S. to avoid the then prohibition laws). It was at this restaurant that Cardini was said to have ‘thrown’ the salad together with great flair and with the only ingredients he had left in the kitchen when a particular group of patrons had wondered in. The dish, and Cardini’s performance caught on rapidly. It was then that Cardini’s business partner said that it was he who(m) invented the salad. A few other individuals wanted their names associated with the dish, but ultimately most people are settling with Caesar Cardini as the father of Caesar salad.
for your listening pleasure (not for the faint of heart):