Though a unanimous favorite, our family reserved the Caesar salad experience for dining out. Somewhere in the long ago, I had heard that Caesar salad required a raw egg in the dressing. The thought of eating raw eggs gives me a food-safety anxiety attack and home-pasteurizing eggs seems like too much effort for too little reward. So I had lumped Caesar salad into the category of hullabaloo-cooking and never even thought about making it at home.
But recently I have revised my opinion. I owe this change of heart to my salad-loving, lunch-time bistro companion and best friend, Marcia, who ordered a grilled Caesar salad on one of our lunch-time excursions. One taste and we both agreed that the flavor of the charred leaves added an exciting new element to this already tasty classic.
She liked the grilled Caesar so much that she began making it at home…a lot.
After a brief tutorial and poo-pooing my reservations, she convinced me to give it try. The smoky charred flavor juxtaposed to the tart lemony dressing and sour salty capers; the elegant presentation with a deceptively simple preparation; the ability to eat the salad with your hands like a slice of pizza (a winner with the kids), and the complete removal of eggs from the recipe—all of these reasons have me making this salad at home now too…a lot.
- HOMEMADE CAESAR DRESSING
- the juice of 2 lemons (about ⅓ cup)
- 1 t anchovies in oil
- ½ t sugar
- 1 t Worcestershire sauce
- 2 t mayonnaise
- ½ salt
- ¾ cup good rapeseed or olive oil
- ½ t powdered garlic or one whole garlic clove, crushed
- 2 hearts of Romaine
- OPTIONAL ADDITIONS
- 1 T capers
- 1 cup croutons
- Shredded Parmesan cheese
- Salt & Pepper
- TO MAKE THE DRESSING
- Combine the juice, anchovies, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mayo, salt, and powdered garlic (if using), and with an upright or immersion blender on high speed. Slowly drizzle in the oil while continuing to blend on high until the dressing looks creamy and completely emulsified.
- If you are using fresh garlic, add the crushed clove after emulsifying and allow it to infuse its flavor in the oil for 6 - 24 hours before fishing out and discarding. Don't leave the garlic in the dressing as it can be a breeding ground for botulism spores.
- TO MAKE THE GREENS
- Heat grill (I use a caste iron pan grill) over a medium flame until the grates are hot.
- Meanwhile, slice the clean heart of Romaine in half vertically. Brush the cut side with a bit of oil and place firmly on the hot grill,
- Allow to char for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Remove immediately, dress, garnish and season with salt and pepper. Serve.
Nutrition & Storage: Remember, of all the fruits and vegetables, greens are the most nutrient dense. You should eat greens (or “leaves” as my husband calls them) every day—cooked or raw. Of all the salad greens, Romaine is not only among the most nutritious but also the hardiest. It stays fresh in the fridge longer than more tender varieties. Wash them, spin them dry, and store them in a salad spinner. I like this OXO. It’s kept my Romaine crisp and fresh for 2 weeks or more stored like this.
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