There just isn’t a lot to say about this one. We love Caesar Salad at our home. Simple, salty, tangy, citrusy, eggy, cheesy, peppery, etc. The kids would eat it every night. The only thing we do different from a tradish Caesar Salad is that we don’t serve it with croutons. Occaisonally I toast some bread and we have it along side, but never in the classic sense.
You can buy Cardini’s or the boatloads of other storebought caesar dressings like I have for years to serve at home and mostly be OK but I have always secretly wanted to recreate a casear like I had at my favorite steak house. The kind that is quickly and efficiently put together at tableside and gently and delightfully poured out onto crisp romaine hearts with an optional anchovy filet on top.
The history of the Caesar Salad isn’t nearly as impressive as you want it to be. According to various food blogs and the Wikipedia, it was put together in haste near the US border of Mexico near Tijuana by a guy named Caesar Cardini (not a Caesar from Italian fame which, honestly, makes it a little less cool).
Served traditionally with egg yolk, parm, garlic, vinegar, lemon, olive oil, anchovy paste/filet, Worcestershire and black pepper, over romaine and croutons, it has become one of the great side salads for many meals and has become one of the most kid-friendly along the way. I say it is the blend of salt and egginess, but I honestly don’t know. I DO KNOW, however that the anchovy is the key. Anchovies get a bad rap in the US but there is nothing quite like the savory, umami-rich depth that 2 little filets bring to the dressing. It really is what makes the caesar the caesar. The rest of the ingredients can be found in other salad dressing mash ups but the anchovy is what brings this humble dressing together.
We make homemade dressings more and more each week and rarely, unless someone dumps a bottle on us, do we buy bottles of premade dressing. We do a lot of balsamic and olive oil and loads of every day vinaigerette type dressings (oil, acid in form of lemon or vinegar, dijon, fresh herbs, etc.) that seem to keep nicely in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
So when I was thumbing through the new(ish) Food52 cookbook recommended from several of my fave writers, including Ruhlman, I stumbled upon a super-simple, easy-to-make, unintimidating caesar dressing that didn’t require eggs (not that that really mattered to me…but…)! I keep a tube of anchovy paste in the top shelf of the door of my fridge and had picked up a small jar of anchovy fillets over at Delaurenti’s, the cool Italian grocer at Pike Place Market. I could do this and could make it well and the kids would probably love it and I wouldn’t tell them (initially) that there were anchovies involved. Oh and best part? Jackie can eat it too (essentially on a Keto diet) because I can control all of the base ingredients!
Trust me, you will want to do this and you will probably not ever go back to storebought again!
1/2 cup mayo
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup water
1 clove garlic
8 turns cracked pepper
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp Worcestershire
1/4 tsp Tabasco
2 anchovy fillets
3 Tbsp Tomato paste