Caesar Salad Dressing
My all time, absolute favorite salad is a Caesar salad. I’ve always loved the creamy, cheesy dressing over crunchy romaine lettuce. There’s just something wonderful, something completely crave-able about Caesar salads. I just love it! I always order it when we go out to eat – no matter what other salads are on the menu. I just can’t resist it!
Now, when it comes to making my own or having a Caesar salad out at a restaurant, I’m super duper picky. It has to be the right type of dressing, the right toppings, the right lettuce…I get very caught up in the details of this salad. There are only a few places that I can say that I LOVE their Caesar salads. And until now, I’ve never actually liked any of the dressings I’ve made at home. They never tasted “just right,” ya know?
But after a lot of tweaking (like over a year of tweaking), I’ve finally come up with a Caesar salad dressing recipe that’s perfect! Absolutely perfect! Garlickly, salty, cheesy, bright and fresh. It’s the best dressing I’ve ever made…as of now :). However, there are a few tricks to my dressing – that you can’t really skip – that makes this an all time BEST dressing and very, very authentic. Here they are:
- The nice subtle garlic flavor. It’s hard to get a good garlic flavor in dressings – used raw, it can be really over powering and too much, and if you cook it first, you lose some of the bite that raw garlic can add. But here’s the trick – let the raw minced garlic hang out in the lemon juice for 10-15 minutes before completing the recipe. The lemon juice (an acid) actually “cooks” the garlic slightly – making it less harsh, but leaving a nice garlic pop to the dressing. This is super important to do!
- A nice salty bite. The one part of Caesar dressing that I love, is the salty kick. This can be achieved through a variety of ingredients, but the best flavor comes from anchovies. Now, if you’re not an anchovy fan, I swear, this recipe will make you a convert. They are sort of dissolved into the dressing and leave such an amazing, salty, and briny flavor. It’s very hard to get the same flavor from plain old table salt or even something like capers. Just use the anchovies (unless you’re vegan)…you won’t regret it!
- Use the real deal Parmesan cheese. The REAL deal guys…not the one in any kinda of mysterious green can. There are just a few ingredients in the recipe and they aren’t cooked and so the flavors will be very pronounced. In addition, most traditional Caesar salads have Parmesan shavings on top or mixed throughout and when you get a bite of the raw parm, you definitely want to make sure it’s good. So choose a high quality parm – and I know it’s expensive, but again, it’s worth it. Plus, wrapped well, Parmesan can be frozen and saved for other uses!
- A creamy, lettuce coating texture. I’ve always loved how Caesar dressing is somewhat thick and coats each leaf of lettuce. SO good. The way I accomplish this, is through a raw egg yolk and a splash of heavy cream. Now, I get my eggs fresh from the farm where the risk of salmonella is low (and I’m not at high risk health-wise). If you are uncomfortable doing this, you can feel free to substitute something else (see recipe below). But even store bought eggs are OK to use. You can’t taste raw egg in there and it’s key for keeping all the ingredients nicely emulsified/blended and helps the dressing stick to the lettuce. The splash of heavy cream is where you get that rich mouth-feel! And it’s just a splash so use the good stuff and don’t fret over calories!
- The toppings. Some places will only serve up a very basic salad – no toppings. But to be honest, I feel like an authentic Caesar needs these toppings: some anchovies (the white ones are the bomb!) and buttery croutons! Just a few, but when you get a crouton and lettuce and anchovy all together. It’s like heaven in your mouth. Really…I’m serious. Heaven.
Kale Salad with Caesar Dressing:
- 4 cups chopped Tuscan/Dinosaur kale
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 egg yolk (or if not using, double the amount of Dijon mustard)
- 1 tbsp anchovy paste
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 freshly grated parmesan cheese + 1/3 parmesan shavings (use a vegetable peeler to make these)
- 1 cup whole grain croutons
- In a small bowl, mix together the minced garlic and lemon juice. Allow to sit for a minimum of 10-15 minutes before moving on to Step 2.
- Add in the anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, grated parmesan cheese and mustard. Whisk together with lemon garlic mixture until all the ingredients are mixed well.
- Add the egg yolk and whisk until incorporated.
- Drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil, whisking slowly at the same time. You can also make this dressing in a mason jar and shake vigorously to combine. Taste dressing at this point and adjust for seasoning.
- Mix the kale with the dressing – using however much dressing you prefer. Toss together so each leaf is coated.
- Serve the salad and sprinkle on croutons and parmesan shavings on top of each portion. Serve immediately.