If Caesar Salad is one of your favourite salads when you’re eating out, join the club!
If you’re anything like the team at MoM.CookClub HQ, a freshly made Caesar Salad with crispy lettuce, crunchy croutons and a sharp, but not too sharp, dressing is always a winner.
Where does Caesar salad come from?
You may be forgiven for thinking Caesar Salad must have started with Julius Caesar – way back in the days when he was wooing Cleopatra! So it’s Italian right? After all, the dressing does contain anchovies!
According to an article in the Huffington Post, legend has it that Italian-American restaurateur Caesar Cardini invented the salad in 1924 in Tijuana, Mexico. The article says that according to The Telegraph, Cardini owned a restaurant in the tourist destination that he had designed to “attract Americans frustrated by Prohibition.” The exact story is disputed, but the general consensus is that over Fourth of July weekend, Cardini threw together a bunch of ingredients he had on hand and served his concoction to his friends. Ta Dah! Happy 4th of July – here’s a salad named after me to celebrate! Needless to say, the ingredients he threw together nearly 100 years ago have lived on as the Caesar Salad.
What’s the trick to an amazing Caesar Salad?
We believe there are 4 things to remember if you want your Caesar Salad getting rave reviews:
- Look for the freshest, crispiest Cos Lettuce you can find. Separate all the leaves and rinse well in chilled water. Shake and then lay out on clean paper towel and pat gently to remove the bulk of the water.
- Use unsliced bread or rolls that are a couple of days old to make your croutons. If you make these ahead of time, only store for up to 24 hours so they still taste fresh.
- Use real parmesan cheese – not the powdery parmesan in a can that can sit on the supermarket shelf for months without requiring refrigeration.
- Only ever ‘dress’ your caesar salad immediately before serving – as soon as the dressing goes on, the enzymes start to work away on the lettuce leaves and they will wilt quickly. If you’re taking this dish to a friend’s, take the dressing made up in a jar and add just before serving.
Tips to bulking out your Caesar Salad.
Lots of people like to make a Caesar Salad into a full meal – great idea. Add chargrilled chicken tenderloins, cold or chargrilled fresh prawns or a lovely big handful of bacon pieces that have been oven baked or grilled (to reduce the fat). Others also like to chop boiled eggs through a caesar salad to bump up the protein.
This Simple Caesar Salad is so quick – in fact we’ve been known to be able to whip this up in about 6 minutes! It’s really designed as a starter or a small side salad – perfect if you’re serving with a good quality steak or alongside another slightly heavier dish.
We hope you enjoy!
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1 large Cos Lettuce (or you could use 2 smaller Cos Lettuce Hearts)
- 2 - 3 Thick Slices of Sourdough Bread (white is fine if you do not have sourdough)
- 1 - 2 cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed
- 6 Anchovies (or 1 - 2 teaspoons of Anchovy Paste to taste)
- 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 3 tsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tsp Good Quality Mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated or shredded
- Black Pepper, finely milled
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Cut or tear the bread into small bitesize pieces and lay onto a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray. Lightly spray with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place into the middle of the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Chop the base of the Cos Lettuce and then rinse all leaves with filtered, chilled water and lay onto paper towel to dry. Pat or shake gently to dry faster.
- Throw all the ingredients for the dressing into the small bowl of a food processor (or you could whisk together in a mixing bowl if using anchovy paste): Garlic + Anchovies/Anchovy Paste + Dijon Mustard + Lemon Juice + Olive Oil + Mayonnaise + pinch Salt + pinch Black Pepper.
- Check the croutons - you may need to rotate the tray for even cooking or toss the croutons on the tray a little to get them all nice and crunchy. Once cooked, allow to cool.
- Pile all the lettuce leaves together and chop into strips about 1 - 2cm wide. Place in a lovely serving bowl or platter and add the croutons. Drizzle with the dressing and then sprinkle with parmesan. Serve immediately.
Here's a few more classic salads you might like to try: