Lighter brighter caesar salad

I love the essence of caesar salad – bright lemon, salty parmesan, crisp romaine and crunchy croutons – but I could do without the gloppiness that weighs down most incarnations. This is caesar salad my way – light, bright, no egg, no mayo. It makes a great buffet salad, as romaine holds up well. But it’s best fresh, when the croutons are crispest.

Crouton ingredients

  • 3 cups good quality bread cut into 3/4″ cubes (old bread is best)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Caesar dressing ingredients

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemon halves)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salad ingredients

  • 3 romaine hearts (12-16 oz total)
  • 3-4 oz (1 1/2-2 cups) freshly grated parmesan cheese (as good as you can find)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss bread cubes with generous drizzle of olive oil, minced garlic, a good shake of salt and grind of pepper. Spread on baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, add lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Slowly add olive oil and whisk until emulsified (oil no longer floats separately on top). Adjust seasonings to taste.
  3. Wash and dry romaine leaves. Tear or chop leaves and place in large salad bowl.
  4. Add salad dressing to taste and toss well to coat thoroughly.
  5. Add grated parmesan and toss to mix.
  6. Add cooled croutons and toss one final time.

Makes 6 generous or 12 small servings.

Notes

  • Worcestershire substitutes: anchovy paste adds a classic caesar flavor; even soy sauce will do in a pinch to give a bit of salty umami depth.
  • Because of the lemon juice, caesar salad dressing is best fresh but will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator.
  • In general cutting lettuce makes it wilt faster, but I find romaine hearts to be sturdy enough to hold up. To me cutting romaine hearts makes for more even distribution of white part to green as well as more consistently bite-sized pieces.
  • To prepare ahead, store romaine, grated cheese and dressing separately in refrigerator. Keep cooled croutons at room temperature. Toss salad just before serving, adding croutons last.

Here’s a link back to the post and pictures.

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