Rumor (aka Wiki) has it that Caesar salad was invented by a guy named Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant working in Tijuana during the Prohibition Era (this assertion is corroborated here and somewhat here). Its genesis was supposedly due to scarcity of ingredients in the kitchen—a serendipitous shortage, indeed.
Last time I made Caesar for dinner, I looked at John and said “This might be my favorite food. I might like it more than pizza.” If you know me, you know that’s a big deal: I love pizza.
But I know pizza isn’t the best for me and I can over-do it, like the time (ugh, recently) that I ate an entire medium pizza. Whoops. That said, I could never feel bad about putting away an entire head of lettuce. And that’s what I do when I eat this salad.
John took a week-long trip this past summer so, naturally, I ate Caesar every night.
I also recently went on a post-holiday “Caesar Salad Cleanse” that involved eating Caesar every night for a week. The cleanse was a bad idea, in retrospect, but that’s a story for another day. This salad is never a bad idea.
I was first introduced to real Caesar salad by my friend Danny. Danny learned to make Caesar at a yacht club where he worked, with his now-wife Kayla, during their college summer breaks. Years later, he shared his recipe and taught me to make it. Friend, it’s high-time to forget those anemic, bland impostors of the past: this dressing has body, color, and a bold, garlicky flavor.
Our friendship with Danny and Kayla really began circa 2005, when my parents started driving me to Tulsa to perform in a million productions of The Nutcracker. During rehearsal weekends, we’d all (eight of us, at the time) stay with Danny and Kayla. When I wasn’t at rehearsal we’d hang out, watch movies, loudly tell stories over one another and—most importantly—eat delicious food: fresh halibut and salmon, crusty ciabatta bread, roasted asparagus and Danny’s Caesar salad. It was a simple season that fed the friendship between our families.
- ½ lemon
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 anchovies
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Dash of Tabasco or Sriracha
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Grated parmesan
- Salt and pepper
- Squeeze the lemon into a big bowl, then mince or press the garlic and add it to the lemon juice, along with the anchovies.
- Use a fork to mash the anchovies until you've got uniform, small pieces.
- Add the egg yolk, Dijon, hot sauce, and Worcestershire and mix thoroughly.
- Whisk in the olive oil until it emulsifies slightly, then add Parmesan, salt, and pepper to taste.
Notes: #1 I will eat a full batch of dressing (plus a giant head of lettuce) by myself, however, it’s pretty perfect for two people to split if you roast some extra peppers. #2 I do reduce the amount of cheese and oil, especially if I am just making this for myself. In fact, I never measure the oil and drizzle it in, slowly, until it’s thinned out a little (enough to toss). The garlic and anchovy flavors will be a little more pungent if you use less oil, but I don’t mind. Just do your thing. #3 This salad is perfect with roasted peppers, which is usually how I enjoy mine. It’s also great with grilled chicken or baked salmon, if you’re wanting something a little more meaty. #4 Danny is brand loyal when it comes to the Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce he uses: Grey Poupon mustard and Annie’s sauce.