There’s a reason classic Caesar salad reigns supreme. It’s one of the few salads that is perfect in the height of summer cookout season—try grilling your romaine lettuce over the open flame for added smokiness—and yet is just as welcome on the Thanksgiving dinner table. It probably helps that few people can really turn their nose up at it, whether you’re dealing with your little one who never eats anything fresh or your all-natural cousin from Berkeley. We attribute this to the irresistible creamy, cheesiness of the classic Caesar salad—hello, umami! And though there are many varieties of Caesar salad (from kale Caesar, grilled Caesar or the wilty sad version at your work cafeteria buffet line), there are only a few ingredients that will truly take it to the next level. We present our small-batch secrets to perfecting the classic caesar salad...
The Lettuce: Keep It Clean and Crisp...
Like a new suit. The bulk of any salad is the greens, right? The texture you want to achieve is crispy crunch, as a fresh green should be when it’s plucked from the ground. Whatever green you use, the way you prepare them for the salad is where the difference lies. Shock your greens in ice cold water for 10 minutes, then dry in a salad spinner or colander. Once you’ve dried the greens, remove them to dry paper towels. Roll up the cloth and place in the refrigerator to remove any residual moisture. All of this extra prep work may seem tedious, but it’ll yield a crisper (and therefore more satisfying) salad.
To Croutons: A Toast!
For the best classic Caesar salad, there’s no way around it—you have to make your own croutons. Don’t panic. It only requires a few ingredients and a little extra time. Cut a rustic loaf of bread into cubes (you can keep or remove the crusts, depending on your taste). Place in a large bowl and drizzle with a high-grade, small-batch organic olive oil. Now, our blend of seasonings is what’s going to… ahem, spice things up. Most classic Caesar salad recipes only call for garlic in the dressing, but we include an umami-rich flavor bomb that is known as Black Garlic salt. This salt features in-house fermented garlic that has both a caramelized sweetness and earthy depth. Blend ½ teaspoon of this salt with freshly ground black pepper and 4 ounces of grated firm goat cheese. Toss with your bread and toast at 400 degrees for 12 minutes.
The Big Cheese
Set down the pre-grated tub of Parmesan and back away. Now do a 180-degree turn and head toward the block cheeses. Get fresh Parmesan. When it comes to perfect Caesar salad, put away that old box grater and use a vegetable peeler to get big, thick shavings of Parmesan. Don’t forget to shave extra… some you’ll toss in the salad, others you’ll toss directly into your mouth.
The Dressing: Only the Creamiest
Here’s the bad news: When it comes to Caesar, you can’t be squeamish about anchovies or raw egg yolk in your dressing. Four anchovy fillets mashed with two garlic cloves is the starting point. Whisk in the juice of half a lemon, 1 teaspoon bourbon barrel-aged Worcestershire sauce, ½ teaspoon hand-crafted Dijon mustard, 1 egg yolk and freshly ground pepper. As you’re whisking, slowly add ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil in a thin stream. Going the extra mile for high-quality ingredients will produce a high-quality dressing, rich in flavor and texture.
As soon as the dressing is done, you’re ready to combine everything for your next-level Mouth-watering classic Caesar salad. In a large bowl, toss your greens, fresh croutons, dressing, and a generous amount of Parmesan shavings (at least one cup for two heads of Romaine). Finish with just a pinch of fresh mineral-rich flaky sea salt sprinkled over the top. It will bring out the flavors and add a bit more texture to the salad. Serve with a slice of lemon, for people who want to adjust the acidity of the dressing.
There’s no reason salad should be the brunt of the potluck duties or the sad side of the buffet line. If you have to bring the salad for your next event, romaine calm and get cooking. These small-batch classic Caesar salad recipe tips will make you the king of any family gathering, weeknight meal, summer cookout or holiday extravaganza (and all with so few ingredients!).