Caesar salad is one of those classic dishes that almost every restaurant has on their menu and most people make at home, but few people and even few restaurants take the time and effort to do it from scratch. I’m here to show you how to have one of the best homemade Caesar salads you’ve ever had in only 15 minutes!
15 minutes for fresh croutons and fresh dressing? Yes! It is possible. 🙂 Like my Blue Cheese Dressing, my awesome Caesar dressing, which is so much better than anything you can buy in the store takes only 5 minutes to make once you have all your ingredients assembled. The croutons take about 10 minutes and you can have them merrily browning on the stove while you are making the dressing. Wash some lettuce. Shave some parmesan and you are done in the time it will take your main course to finish cooking. (This salad is great with my ‘Get the Girl’ Chicken Parmesan Casserole.)
First up are the croutons. Any leftover country-style dinner bread is going to be great when making these crispy on the outside and a little chewy on the inside croutons. Just use a heavy pan and keep the heat low and you will have golden-brown croutons that would be a credit to any salad but are especially amazing in this caesar salad.
I’ll admit the dressing is bit tricky, but it is seriously worth the effort. Take it from someone who has broken many an emulsion over the years. It’s worth figuring out how to do this! Whisk up that egg yolk with just a little lemon juice to get it ready for the oil and then keep that whisk moving nice and fast until all the oil is mixed in.
The next two elements of the salad are the romaine and the Parmesan cheese. No mystery with the romaine I believe. 🙂 As for the cheese, since that flavor is such a big part of a caesar salad, I like to use a nice chunk of Italian Parmesan and shave off thin pieces with a peeler. Yum!
I know anchovies are the definition of an acquired taste, so those are optional. Well…when I say optional, I mean the whole anchovies on top of the salad. Those are optional. If you want a vegetarian salad, leave out all the anchovies of course, but, for non-vegetarians add some anchovy paste or minced anchovies to the dressing. You won’t be sorry.
- 6 oz country style dinner bread, broken into bite-sized pieces
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- kosher salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1½ tbsp lemon juice
- kosher salt
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp anchovy paste, or minced anchovies (optional)
- 2 heads romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed
- 1 oz parmesan cheese, shaved into thin sheets
- anchovies, optional
- For the croutons: Heat up a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add olive oil and garlic and let the garlic sizzle in the oil for 1 minute. Remove the garlic and set it aside. Add the torn up bread and toss it quickly in the oil to coat it thoroughly. Allow the croutons to cook, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned all over, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low if the croutons begin browning too quickly. Low and slow is the way to go. Once they are done, remove them to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
- For the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolk with 1 tsp of the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. The color of the yolk will change to light yellow and then darken again. Once it darkens, it's ready to add the oil.
- Pour the oil in very slowly at first while whisking vigorously. Keep whisking and add the oil in a light, but steady, stream. (You can stop to rest as needed. Begin whisking again before adding more oil when you are ready to start.) You may add up to ½ cup of oil to one egg yolk - more than that will be too much for the yolk - so if you want more dressing feel free to use the ½ cup instead ⅓ cup.
- Once the oil is all incorporated, add the remaining lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and anchovies. Press or mince the reserved garlic from the croutons and add that as well. Mix it all together. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding salt and more of the other flavors as needed.
- For the salad: Divide the romaine lettuce among four plates. I like to slice up larger leaves and leave the smaller ones whole. Top each plate with croutons. Drizzle dressing over and arrange some parmesan shavings around the lettuce. Add fresh anchovies if you wish.
If you want to reduce the amount of olive oil in the croutons, I find that using some spray olive oil to coat them allows me to use just enough oil in the pan to coat the bottom. However, the croutons will not be quite as browned and crispy. For that you need to really coat them.