Sunday, May 23, 2010

Et tu Brute? Caesar salad made easy.

I promise you...once you make Caesar Salad from scratch, you will NEVER buy bottled Caesar Salad dressing again.  And it's easy to make.  Very easy.  Insanely easy.  See...the more you eat fresh, unprocessed foods that don't come in a package/bottle/box, the more you eschew them in favor of home-made goodness

"eschew" - word of the day meaning to abstain or keep away from; shun; avoid - I always liked saying the word "eschew" - even though it reminds me of a sneeze - it's just one that gives me pleasure whenever it rolls off my tongue

"Bless you!"
"Oh, I didn't sneeze, I was trying to make a point"

Before we start - let me give you a quick lesson on crushing garlic. Don't bother trying to peel the cloves, just separate 3 of them and see the magic. You need a flat, broad, knife. like this one:

Then, you need a flat surface, preferably a cutting board. Put the garlic clove on the cutting board, cover it with the flat side of the knife, then bang your fist down on it.

Voila! the skin peels off the garlic like buttah, and it's already partly smooshed, making it easy for you to mince.

It's also a great way to get out some aggression on people you make an effort to eschew. Just pretend it's their head or something. The skin will peel off like magic. Poof! Gone! Voila! Now you have a lovely, partially smooshed clove of garlic ready for mincing by your verysharp knife.

Watch your fingers. The easiest way to do this, is hold onto the tip of your knife and move the blade in a 'chopping' motion around the garlic.  Now...on to the salad!


Ingredients: (printable recipe is HERE along with a recipe for home made croutons, if you get ambitious ) Serves 4-6

1 head of Romaine Lettuce
1 egg dropped in boiling water for ONE MINUTE ONLY then rinsed under cold water if you want to skip this step, you can just do it raw.  However, I would suggest using organic, free range, cage free eggs to reduce the risk of salmonella.
1/2 cup Olive Oil - Extra Virgin, Cold Pressed, first press. - don't ask why, just buy.
1/2 cup Parmesean cheese - grated (or you could buy a chunk and grate it yourself - tastier that way)
about 1 inch of Anchovy Paste I promise you will not taste fish - However, if you are too chicken, you can substitute a teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce - it tastes just as good
Fresh Ground Black Pepper Please, please PLEASE do NOT use "ground pepper" - ugh, especially when there are so many inexpensive disposable black pepper mills on the market.
3 cloves Garlic  "ESCHEW" the jarred, already minced crap.  It doesn't have half the flavor of fresh.
1 lemon

Once you smoosh the garlic, add the egg.  Whisk until blended.  Now, while whisking, add a thin stream of olive oil - Your dressing will thicken.  Pretty cool! 

Roll a lemon around on the counter (it helps get more juice out) cut it in half, and squeeeeeze both halves over your egg/oliveoil/garlic stuff.  Whisk some more.  Add your anchovy paste - I put about an inch in (I have a tube I keep in the fridge) - if you are too chicken to try the anchovy paste, then use about a tsp. of Worcestershire Sauce.  It's now ready to toss with your lettuce.  Break up your head of Romaine into generous bite size pieces, and throw into the bowl (or, you can just buy a bag or two of the already prepared stuff)  Toss the leaves until evenly coated with the dressing.  You may want to add more leaves if you don't like a lot of dressing on your salad. 

Add the parmesean cheese (1/2 cup in case you forgot) and PLENTY of fresh ground black pepper to taste.  Lastly, garnish with some croutons and a sprinkling of parm, and you're done.

If you want to get the garlic scent off your hands and cutting board, just rub the lemon halves over them both.  No more odor!  Then, toss it down your garbage disposal to freshen it up - or...squeeze what's left of juice in the lemon halves into a pyrex cup of water, put in your microwave for about 3-4 minutes (or until boiling) let sit for about 10 minutes, wipe clean - How easy is that?

Serve the salad with your favorite pasta dish, as lunch, or add some grilled chicken, a loaf of crusty bread, some white wine, and you have a nice summer dinner.

If you want to dispense with the fancy shmancy "hey, look at me, I can COOK" stuff, put the egg, garlic, olive oil, anchovy paste or Worcestershire Sauce in a jar and shake, shake, shake til' blended.  Pour over your lettuce leaves, then toss with parm cheese and fresh ground black pepper, and instead of humming "My milk shake brings all the boyz to the yard" you'll be humming "My Caesar salad brings all the boyz to the yard"  YEAH!

A very useful tool to have in your kitchen is a mortar and pestle.  You can smash avocados, garlic, bananas, spices, whatever with it.  I have two - a molcajete a Mexican friend got me - it's made from lava rock, and is great for making the rustic salsas, grinding spices, etc.  I also have a wooden mortar and pestle made by Imusa.  I use this one most often.  It's cheap - about $4-6.  Definitely worth it - You can find them in Latino/Hispanic markets, and some Kmarts have them.


  1. YUM!
    i love caesar salad. your blogs always always make my mouth water.
    i heard there was anchovies in caesar...weird. i can't ever taste it.

  2. Yup..usually you smoosh an anchovy or two after you smoosh the garlic...but then you are left with a tin of anchovies and nothing to do except make a yukky face at them because they are gross. a tube of anchovy paste and it lasts forever and save yourself the yukkiness :)