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  • Writer's pictureScott Rotella

Hail Caesar: The best Caesar Dressing and ways to use it


Freshly made Caesar Salad Dressing
Caesar Salad Dressing

Caesar salad is one of the most iconic salads in the world. It's simple, yet delicious, and can be enjoyed as a light meal or a side dish. The classic Caesar salad is made with romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and a creamy Caesar dressing.


The history of Caesar salad is a bit murky. Some say it was invented by Caesar Cardini, a Mexican-Italian chef who was working at a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, in the 1920s. Others say it was invented by another Italian chef, named Cesare Cardini.


Regardless of who invented it, Caesar salad quickly became a popular dish throughout the world. It's now one of the most popular salads on restaurant menus, and it's also a popular dish to make at home.


What makes Caesar salad so special?

There are a few things that make Caesar salad special. First, the ingredients are simple but perfectly balanced. The romaine lettuce provides a crisp and refreshing base, the croutons add a bit of crunch, the Parmesan cheese adds a salty and nutty flavor, and the Caesar dressing adds a creamy and tangy flavor. The anchovy in the dressing adds a unique savory flavor that makes it special!


Second, Caesar salad is a versatile dish. It can be enjoyed on its own as a light meal, or it can be served as a side dish with a main course. It can also be customized to your liking. For example, you can add grilled chicken, shrimp, or avocado to your Caesar salad.


Making the Best Caesar Dressing


Ingredients:

  • Garlic: You will need to finely mince the garlic so that it disappears in the dressing. One approach is to you a fine micro-plane. My favorite approach is to use frozen garlic. Dorot packages excellent and very convenient garlic in one clove portions.

  • Anchovy Paste: You can certainly use a couple of canned filets and pulverize them. I use the paste. It is a convenient shortcut.

  • Lemon juice: Adds brightness and tang and balances the saltiness

  • Mayonnaise: Use our homemade version or your favorite store bought brand. Traditional Caesar whisks oil and eggs. Using mayonnaise cuts out that task.

  • See recipe for complete list of ingredients

Instructions:

  1. If using frozen Garlic, defrost in a microwave on low setting.

  2. In a bowl, combine Anchovy Paste, Worcestershire, Lemon Juice and Mustard until combined. Add Mayonnaise, Parm and the rest of the seasoning.

  3. Test for seasoning using a torn piece of romaine.




Tips for making the perfect Caesar salad:

  • Use fresh, crisp romaine lettuce.

  • Make your own croutons using stale bread.

  • Don't overdress the salad.

  • Serve the salad immediately for the best flavor.

Classic Dinner Salad

A classic Caesar is the perfect start to so many meals. I always start with Romaine hearts.


To Prepare:

  • Make your croutons. I like to use bread without the crust. Just rip up irregular pieces of bread. If the bread is not dry, give it a quick toast on a sheet pan. After the light toasting, sprinkle on some olive oil, salt, granulated garlic and a some grated parm. Stir to mix and then toast at 350F until the pieces are medium brown. Don't forget to stir mid-way through the cook.

  • Rip or cut your romaine into bite size pieces and then clean and dry the lettuce.

  • With your romaine in a large bowl, add dressing to lightly dress the salad. Mix thoroughly.

  • Plate the dressed lettuce and add croutons and parm shavings created with a potato peeler.

Grilled Caesar Dinner Salad


Plated Grilled Caesar Salad
Grilled Chicken Caesar

This is an elegant and delicious riff on the classic dinner salad which always gets oohs and aahs! The croutons are replaced with seasoned and toasted panko. The dressing is thinned a bit with lemon juice and avocado oil so that it drizzles better. Make sure to look for smaller romaine or baby romaine hearts for this preparation.


To Prepare:

  • Toast your panko.

    • In a small frying pan add a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter on medium heat.

    • When the butter is melted, add 1/2 cup of plain panko bread crumbs and sprinkle in some granulated garlic and salt. You can optionally add some finely grated parm.

    • Continue to stir over medium heat until the panko is a deep brown.

  • Thin your Caesar dressing with some lemon juice and olive oil until it is a nice drizzling consistency.

  • Clean up the romaine by tearing off any discolored outer leaves and cut them in half length-wise. Soak the romaine halves in cold water and then allow to dry on a towel face down. If your romaine is large consider cutting into quarters.

  • When the romaine is dry, prep it for grilling by drizzling olive oil on the cut side of each half and then season with salt and pepper.

  • On a medium high grill, place the romaine on the grill grates face down. Grill until there are grill marks and some char on the lettuce.

  • To plate, place a romaine half on a plate. Using kitchen shears cut out the core. This is optional, but a nice touch.

  • Drizzle the romaine with the thinned dressing.

  • Sprinkle the seasoned and toasted panko on top of the lettuce.

  • Add a few parm shavings and serve!


Chicken Caesar Entree Salad


Chicken Caesar Salad in a bowl
Grilled Chicken Caesar

I love Chicken Caesar salad for a nice summer dinner. This is really just the side dinner salad, but larger and will a grilled and sliced chicken breast.


To Prepare:

  • Make your croutons as previously described

  • Prep your chicken breast. After any knife cleanup, I like to brush on a small amount of mayonnaise to all side the the breast and then lightly sprinkle with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. The mayonnaise will intensify the char of grill marks adding flavor.

  • Grill your chicken to the correct doneness and allow to slightly cool before slicing into thin strips.

  • Dress your lettuce and assemble you salads:

    • In your serving vessel, add your dressed lettuce

    • toss on some of your croutons

    • Add some parm shavings

    • Place your sliced chicken on the salad

Barbeque Caesar Chicken


My mother grew up in upstate New York. One of the dishes she raised us on from her past was a grilled chicken dish that is very popular in the region. I would say it went viral prior to the internet. I have since learned that it is called Cornell Chicken and was invented by a professor at Cornell in the 1940s. I like this chicken but found that the vinegar was too pronounced and tried to tame it down. Those in upstate New York might think that is sacrilege.


When thinking about this recipe, I though it had similarities to Caesar dressing. It contains egg, oil, vinegar, salt and herbs and spices. However, Caesar has much less vinegar and has the added pleasure of the umami brought on by the anchovies. I thought that it would be worth a try to modify the Caesar dressing to make it into a marinade. Long story short...it worked really well.


To make the marinade, make the basic Caesar dressing but exclude the parmigiano and add 1/2 cup of vegetable oil--I use avocado. Also, if you omitted the salt, add about a teaspoon to the marinade. The chicken needs it.


You can use whatever chicken you like... a cut up skin on fryer, boneless breasts, skinless thighs, etc. Just marinate your chicken for up to four hours. Make sure you remove as much of the marinade as you can prior to grilling. The additional fats will absolutely cause flare-ups--so be prepared. A towel works well for this. This is really a recipe meant for grilling. I have not tried cooking this chicken via another means. Go low and slow cooking this.


Try it...just once. I promise you will be hooked. As a side note: I learned that I was marinating my Cornell Chicken way too long leading to the extra strong vinegar flavor.


Mix It Up

There are many variations on the classic Caesar salad. Here are a few ideas:

  • Shrimp Caesar salad: Add cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, to your Caesar salad.

  • Avocado Caesar salad: Add sliced avocado to your Caesar salad.

  • Caesar salad with hard-boiled eggs: Add hard-boiled eggs, sliced or diced, to your Caesar salad.

  • Caesar salad with bacon: Add crispy bacon bits to your Caesar salad.

Conclusion

Caesar salad is a classic dish that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It's simple to make, yet delicious. There are many variations on the classic Caesar salad, so you can customize it to your liking.


If you're looking for a light and refreshing meal or side dish, Caesar salad is a great option. It's also a great dish to serve to guests.

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damcel1219
10 oct. 2023

It's look so delicious

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