Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad Recipe

For years I was not a fan of Caesar salad. In restaurants it always seemed overly salty and heavy, with no brightness or acidity, and little to no real anchovy flavor. I avoided it for years. Then, a few years back, I was visiting friends and we made Caesar salad together, including the croutons, and I realized I wasn't being fair to this classic salad, so upon returning home I began making my own dressing, playing around with the classic flavors until I found a combination that I loved.

Boozy Epicure's Caesar Dressing/Caesar Salad

Perfect with crunchy romaine and homemade croutons. I am not a traditionalist when it comes to Caesar salad, I add cherry tomatoes and cucumbers if I've got them. I like to make the dressing at least an hour in advance, chuck all the ingredients in a blender and whiz away, then put it into the fridge and let all the flavors meld. Add any plain grilled protein and it's supper as well.

Dressing Ingredients
5-6 anchovy fillets (I know it's a lot, but if you use good anchovies you will be in heaven)
The zest and juice of one lemon
1 tblsp mayo (I don't have a problem with raw eggs, I just think the mayo makes it easier)
Worcestershire sauce
1 tblsp capers
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 handful fresh grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (1/4 cup?, maybe more, I like my cheese and usually grate it right into the blender
1 clove of garlic
1 small handful of parsley
extra virgin olive oil to taste
salt/pepper - be careful with the salt, many of the other ingredients are salty
water - I usually need just a couple of tablespoons get the consistency I want
Ingredients in blender...
Finished dressing. Easy!

These ingredient quantities are close, but just an estimate, I haven't really measured in years. I just toss everything in, blend, taste, and adjust where I think necessary. If you need instructions for homemade croutons, check out my previous post here.

You can cut your romaine, add in any additional veggies you want and the croutons and toss with the dressing, finishing with fresh grated parm, or you can make a more composed salad, keeping the leaves whole. I saw Geoffrey Zakarian serve his Caesar this way and it makes for a very elegant plate.

Whole leaves, ready to pick up and enjoy.

Chopped salad, Caesar in a more traditional format.

Note on anchovies: 
For the brave among you, I highly suggest Ortiz salt packed anchovies. Don't be afraid of cleaning the filets or storing the extra, I've got a little anchovy primer to help you out.

These packs have way more anchovies than you'll need for one salad, and you'll need to clean/separate the filets.

First, you need to decide how you want to store your extras. I keep the anchovies whole, stored in a lidded container with lots of kosher salt. I then clean/filet as I need them. You can also clean/filet all at once and store in extra virgin olive oil in your fridge. They won't last as long (weeks instead of months) but it makes it more convenient for using later.

Whole anchovies, pulled from the pack, placed on kosher salt.

If you are storing in salt, just keep the anchovies in single layers separated by salt, and cover the top completely with kosher salt. When you are ready to use, you will need to rinse the anchovies and put them in a bowl of water to soften. It makes separating the filets much easier.

The soak - give them at least a few minutes, but not longer than 10.

Then you'll just need a small knife, run it along the top, and pull the anchovy in half, you'll have a filet in one hand and a filet attached to spine in the other. Feel free to rinse of any scales or excess. For the second filet, just grab the top of the spine and pull it off the fish. It can be tricky at first, but after a couple of tries, you'll get the hang of it.

Anchovy spines and tails to discard.
The filets can then be stored in oil, or used. While salad dressing is great, a couple of anchovies with garlic and good oil makes an excellent and simple pasta sauce. Just remember that, however you store them, make sure they are completely covered in salt or oil. 

And just in case cleaning and separating anchovy filets is not your idea of fun - here's my favorite oil packed variety, just open the package and use them, no muss no fuss, and in a smaller quantity than the standard cans or jars.

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