Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Caesar Salad

There are some recipes you love, but you know it isn't the be-all-and-end-all version of that wonderful food.  A great tomato sauce, but is it perfect?  A delicious chocolate cake, but is it The One?  Well, this is my Caesar salad recipe for life.  I won't be trying another Caesar recipe now or in 20 years.  This one is a lifer.

This is literally the recipe of the first Caesar salad I ever tasted.  I know that because this is my Uncle Bill's Caesar recipe, and he made it for the family when I was maybe eight years old and our families were renting a beach house together in Nags Head, North Carolina.  It wasn't until I typed that out that I realized how amazing it is that this Caesar salad remained in my memories all this time.  I can remember nothing else from that trip except my first taste of the divinity that is Caesar salad.

This isn't a creamy Caesar dressing that you might find at a chain restaurant, instead the dressing lightly coats the leaves of romaine lettuce so they are bursting with flavor and the grated Parmesan cheese clings to the lettuce fiercely.

I have made this salad many times now, and I can say with certainty that the hardest part is washing and drying the heads of romaine.  Well the washing part isn't hard, but it takes awhile.  The drying - oy.  If you have time, wash your lettuce as far in advance as possible because these leaves do not like to dry off, and wet leaves makes for a soggy and bland salad (trust me).  Now that I know how important it is to thoroughly dry the lettuce, I will use every kitchen towel in my cabinet to pat those suckers dry before I waste my delicious Caesar dressing on Soggytown USA.

I used to make this as a side dish for John and I, but I've since discovered how inane that is.  Why waste time making a second dish when all we really want to eat is this Caesar salad?  We had it for dinner last week and each had two gigantic bowls of this manna.  A head of lettuce each will fill you up, I promise!  (Note: the croutons and cheese don't hurt either.)

Caesar salad is one of my favorite foods but nine times out of ten I am disappointed when I order it at restaurants.  I'm not sure how they do it, but most places manage to turn something I love to something I hate.  I'm not an anchovy person, so that certainly doesn't help the fishy tasting ones.  I never have added anchovy to mine but I will include it in the recipe below in case you are interested.  I apologize if making this Caesar salad ruins restaurant versions for you, but it had to be done.

My uncle and two cousins can make this salad without glancing at the recipe like I need to do every five seconds.  Hopefully one day I'll be tossing everything into my big wooden bowl too, caution to the wind!  (Speaking of wooden bowls, you need a huge one for this recipe or you will need the split the lettuce into two bowls.)

Caesar Salad
A Hacker Family Recipe

2-6 garlic cloves, pressed
(1-2 oz. anchovies)(not something I add)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Dash Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
3-4 large eggs (or egg beaters)

2 large heads of Romaine, washed, dried, and torn into small pieces
6-8 oz. freshly grated Parmesan
1 box/packaged seasoned croutons (try Whole Foods Butter & Garlic or Pepperidge Farm Seasoned)

Easy dressing method: In order listed, add dressing ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together until combined.

Authentic dressing method:
Use garlic press and squeeze garlic into large wooden bowl.  Add anchovy oil, if using, and work with fork up, down, and around bowl until garlic is evenly distributed.  Add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, mustard powder, pepper, and anchovies (if using anchovies).  Pour red wine vinegar around the top of the bowl.  Repeat with olive oil.  Break eggs into bowl and mix thoroughly.  Work the dressing around the sides of the bowl.

Add lettuce, cheese, and croutons to the bowl.  Toss with dressing and serve immediately (the croutons get soggy quickly).

This recipe contains raw eggs, so make sure you use fresh high quality eggs.  You can substitute eggs beaters if you wish or you can coddle the eggs by immersing them in boiling water for one minute.


  1. Lots of wonderful memories involved with this salad and at the end of May I'll get another taste of it!

  2. One of these days, you're going to make your own croutons to go with the salad, and then it'll truly be over the top!

  3. It's a cult, but a good cult. Die, artificial caesar salad dressing! Otherwise, we do no harm.


Related Posts with Thumbnails