A typical Caesar salad comprises romaine lettuce and croutons dressed with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper originally prepared tableside. Caesar Cardini (Italian-born Mexican) is credited with creating the salad.
Contrary to popular belief, the original Caesar's salad recipe did not contain pieces of anchovy; the slight anchovy flavour comes from the Worcestershire sauce. Cardini was opposed to using anchovies in his salad.
In the book From Julia Child's Kitchen, Julia Child describes how she ate a Caesar's salad at Cardini's restaurant when she was a child in 1920s, and some 50 years later she sought out and called Cardini's daughter, in order to discover the original recipe. In this recipe, lettuce leaves are served whole on the plate, because they are meant to be lifted by the stem and eaten with the fingers. It also calls for coddled eggs and Italian olive oil.
Rather than re create the absolute original recipe, I have chosen to go for a composite of many current 'favourite' recipes.
- 1 small cos lettuce, washed and separated into leaves
- 1 50 g (2 oz) can of anchovy fillets, drained. Keep 3 back for the dressing as well as the reserved oil
- 40 g (1.5 oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly and finely grated
- 1 large egg
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled
- Juice of 1 lime or lemon
- 1 teaspoon English mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 150 ml olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 slices of thick white bread, crusts removed and cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Add the olive oil and croutons to a frying pan, season with black pepper, start the garlic sizzling then add the croûtons. Toss and fry until crispy and to taste
- Add the egg, garlic clove, lime juice, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce and the 3 reserved anchovies and blend until smooth. Gradually drizzle the olive oil into the blender as though you were making mayonaise. As long as you don't rush adding the oil, you should have a sauce, the consistency of runny salad-cream.
- Finely chop the anchovies
- Leaving the leaves whole, but ripping up very big leaves, layer the salad leaves and anchovies
- Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with Parmesan, finishing with the croûtons.
- Add a handful of wild rocket leaves for a spicier salad.
- Add sliced cooked chicken or turkey for a more substantial meal.
- Leave out the anchovies for a vegetarian version and use a vegetarian Worcestershire sauce - the original contains anchovies.
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