Once you see how easy it is to make your own Caesar dressing, you’ll be spoiled and won’t enjoy the ubiquitous, bland restaurant versions. I make my own zesty croutons, too (made with cayenne), so they’re nice and warm when I serve this. This is such a hearty salad that I only make it once in a while, but when I do, I enjoy it with a glass of wine.
The olive oil is one of the most important elements. You absolutely have to use extra virgin olive oil for the dressing to taste its best. Although I often use olive oils I find at the specialty shops I frequent, I recently discovered a great supermarket brand: Carapelli. I didn’t realize that it’s one of Italy’s most popular brands, and what I like about it is that it comes in different varietal. For the dressing, I used the premium extra virgin olive oil—it makes such a difference to use the best you can find. For the croutons I used their mild version.
Aside from all the ingredients listed, you’ll also need a chunk of parmesan to shave into the salad.
1 garlic clove, chopped
½ cup olive oil
½ cup fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon of anchovy paste
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons of mayonnaise
Make the dressing
Place chopped garlic in a bowl. Add olive oil, lemon juice, anchovy paste and mustard, and whisk together. Add mayonnaise and whisk until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
½ loaf of day old bread, sliced and quartered; I like to use a baquette or a loaf of sourdough
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
¼ cup of melted butter
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly-ground peppercorns, to taste
Make the croutons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Slice bread until you achieve desired sized croutons. Place in a bowl. Whisk melted butter and olive oil together. Add cayenne pepper and salt and pepper, and whisk until combined. Pour mixture over bread and mix until coated. Place on cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.
Assemble the salad
Add dressing, croutons and freshly shaved parmesan (not grated!), to taste, to two heads of romaine (or whatever lettuce you prefer; sometimes I use spinach). Mix. Serve immediately.