There are times in life when we need to conquer our fears. Like the fear I had of slouchy boyfriend jeans or the blinding brightness of neon capris, my hesitation was real and kind of substantiated, but it was more just standing in the way of comfort and feel good colors. Real Caesar salad dressing was nearly at the top of my cooking fears, it sat right under souffles and hovered next to puttanesca sauce, taunting me with its creamy, salted goodness from over priced grilled chicken salads and kale salads disguised as amazing not for health reasons but more for good tasting reasons because the miracle leaves were swimming in the stuff that I just could not quite figure out.
I tried everything from disguising the lack of raw egg yolks in my homemade version with mayonnaise and adding Worcestershire sauces and lots of Dijon mustard, I even played around with distilled white vinegar. I was afraid to add egg yolks and I didn’t know how I felt about buying $6.00 anchovies that were packed in olive oil and came in glass (I have an aversion to food kept in tin read health reasons) and all this has prevented me from experiencing the greatness that is the power to make my very own Caesar salad in the comfort of my slouchy boyfriend jeans at home.
We went out with friends to the greatest restaurant in San Mateo, literally the best one, the one we take any visitors that come visit out to because its hard to impress your friends that live in the city but this restaurant is up to par so anyway we were all there a bit ago and we ordered the kale Caesar salad and it got unanimous praise from the entire table. The experience reminded me that I had been trying to replicate that same salad for months, even calling the restaurant and hearing what I was missing through a long conversation with the restaurant’s super helpful hostess: egg yolks and anchovies.
So there we were, paying a lot of money for something very simple, and though it was worth every bite at the time (our city dwelling friends were impressed!) I felt this gnawing tug at my foodie heart strings whispering things like, You could technically make this at home and Don’t you want to be able to eat an amazing Caesar salad whenever the mood strikes? Two things happened that quieted these inner thoughts plaguing my life: 1) Bon Appetit ran a bit about how to make the perfect classic Caesar salad and 2) Just like when I wore boyfriend jeans and found their looseness could be counteracted with a fitted shirt, I just went for it and conquered my fears, egg yolks and expensive anchovies and all.
Now, keep in mind there are those that will say egg yolks can be dangerous and are they really necessary? and can’t you get away adding Worcestershire sauce instead of dealing with anchovies because I don’t even really know what those are. These things can all be true but it is also true that the said result of the recipe I list here undeniably yields a dressing that when you taste it, you will savor it just like that expensive salad in your favorite restaurant. Armed with a recipe that is straightforward without any surprise ingredients and tastes exactly how you imagine a Caesar salad to taste should be more than enough motivation to conquer any hesitations around the rest. Come on, no fears here, just do it.
Caesar Salad, slightly adapted from Bon Appetit
serves four as a meal, 6 as a side
for the dressing
6 anchovies packed in olive oil
1 clove of garlic
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons of lemon juice (juice of one good sized lemon)
1/2 cup of olive oil
2- 3 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
for the croutons
loaf of bread (country bread is a suggestion, about 3 cups of torn 1 inch pieces (if there is any leftover you can add more croutons to the salad or better yet, reserve for later use)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
for the salad
3 hearts of romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
to make the dressing
Chop your anchovies and garlic clove together, mincing until they come together like a paste. Move into a medium sized bowl (you will add the rest of the dressing ingredients to this bowl). Whisk in egg yolks, lemon juice and mustard. Slowly whisk in olive oil, stirring pretty well until it thickens. Add you Parmesan if desired (optional) . Season with salt (again, optional!) and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
for the croutons
Heat oven to 350′ and place torn peices of bread onto a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toast for about 15 mniutes or until browned.
to assemble the salad
Put leaves into a salad bowl and slowly coat them with the dressing. Add croutons and toss (Bon Appetit recommends to skip the tongs and use your hands, I suggest you do what you’d like!). Top with shaved Parmesan (I used a vegetable peeler for larger shreds). Enjoy.