Thursday, February 17, 2011

You Can't Beat Tradition: Caesar Salad

Most historians believe that Caesar salad was named for its inventor Caesar Cardini, in Tijuana, Mexico in 1924.  It is said that Cardini was running low on food and he put together a salad for his guests from what was left over in the kitchen. His original recipe included romaine, garlic, croutons, and Parmesan cheese, boiled eggs, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. The original salad was prepared at tableside. When the salad dressing was ready, the romaine leaves were coated with the dressing and placed stem side out, in a circle and served on a flat dinner plate, so that the salad could be eaten with the fingers.  If you've ever had a Caesar salad prepared tableside at a restaurant, you have certainly witnessed a treat.  You could prepare this version tableside if you like, but it's much simpler to make the dressing ahead and assemble the salad at the table if you wish.  It varies somewhat from the original version, using anchovy paste instead of Worcestershire sauce, and omitting the egg.  It is wonderful nonetheless, with the tradional flavor and crispness of a Caesar Salad.  Perfect along side any meal, or with grilled chicken as the meal.  Either way, you can't beat tradition.
The Simple Caesar Salad Line-Up
Add chopped garlic and parsley to a food processor.
Process until minced.
Add anchovy paste. 
(Don't omit this, even if you think you don't like anchovies. 
The paste adds a certain saltiness and depth of flavor that you cannot duplicate.)
Add mustard
Add fresh lemon juice.
Add mayonnaise.
Process to create a smooth dressing. 
Assemble salad and serve immediately,
or cover and refrigerate the dressing at this point.
When ready to serve, place Romaine
in a bowl and toss thoroughly with Caesar dressing.
Toss in croutons and Parmesan cheese
and serve right away.

Caesar Salad
1 large garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 teaspoon good quality Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
Romaine lettuce
Caesar style croutons
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Place the garlic and parsley in the bowl of a food processor and process until minced.  Add the anchovy paste, mustard, lemon juice and mayonnaise.  Process to create a smooth dressing.  Refrigerate if not using immediately.  When ready to serve, place Romaine lettuce in bowl, toss with dressing.  Add croutons and Parmesan cheese, and toss to combine.  Serve immediately.

Prep Time:  Approximately 15 minutes      Cook Time:  0

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