Caesar Salad was created on 4 July 1924 in Tijuana, Mexico by Caesar Cardini, an Italian-born restauranteur. The story, according to his daughter Rosa, is that there was such a rush of customers on 4 July that the restaurant’s kitchen ran low on supplies. To satisfy his hungry patrons, Cardini used whatever he could find in the kitchen to create his famous Caesar Salad, which was tossed at the table by the chef.
The original Caesar Salad recipe contained Romaine lettuce, croutons, parmesan, lemon juice, olive oil, eggs, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and a grinding of black pepper. There were no anchovies in sight! It was only a few years later that Caesar’s brother Alex Cardini re-invented the salad dressing using anchovies and called the salad Aviator’s Salad (it was made for some visiting American airmen from San Diego). Although Caesar himself was against the use of anchovies, the slightly salty hint of anchovy in the dressing is what many fans of Caesar Salad actually crave.
Caesar Salad can be served on its own, or with grilled chicken or grilled prawns on top.
1 garlic clove, peeled and grated / finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp light-colored vinegar (ie. apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar)
4 Tbsp (1/2 cup) mayonnaise
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp anchovy paste (or 4 anchovy fillets)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
10 oz / 280g Romaine or Cos lettuce
Parmesan shavings (optional as there will be parmesan in the dressing)
Anchovy fillets (optional as there will be anchovy in the dressing)
4 cups chunky bread cubes
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried herbs (ie. herbes de Provence or oregano) (optional)
1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
- Croutons: Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Cut up fresh or slightly stale bread into bite-size pieces until you have roughly 4 cups or bread cubes. Put the bread cubes in a baking dish which allows them to sit comfortably in one layer. Drizzle with 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp coarse salt, 1 tsp dried herbs (optional), and 1 tsp garlic powder (optional). Place the dish in the oven. If you are using fresh bread, bake for 10 minutes, stir, and then bake for another 10 minutes. If you are using slightly stale bread, cooking time may be less – 5 minutes, stir, 5 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Dressing: If you are using anchovy fillets, mash them together with half a tsp of salt until it forms a paste. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and whisk well. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Salad: Wash the Cos Lettuce and dry it using a salad spinner or gently rubbing in a tea-towel or kitchen-towel. Cut or tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Assemble the salad just before serving. Place the Cos lettuce on individual plates or in a large salad bowl, drizzle most of the dressing on the leaves (make sure not to drown them), and toss. Taste and add more dressing if necessary.
- If you are using parmesan shavings and anchovy fillets, place them on the salad now (optional).
- Scatter the croutons on top and serve immediately.