Monday, May 16, 2011

Caesar Salad (from scratch) with Homemade Croutons

This is a summertime staple at our house. While it's a really good salad on its own, I like to grill up some protein, slice it up and add it to the top of the salad to make a complete meal. My usual choices are steak, chicken, shrimp or lobster.

While the salad is really good, my family and company always go crazy over the homemade croutons. The trick to great croutons is a great loaf of bread. My favorite choice is the Roasted Garlic Bread from Costco. To achieve crouton perfection, you need bread with a really hard crust and a really soft, chewy interior...which is what the the Costco bread has in spades.

For the Homemade Croutons
1 small to medium loaf of bread with a hard exterior and soft interior
10 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

For the Caesar Salad
2-3 heads romaine lettuce cut into bite size pieces (large, dark green leaves discarded; use the inner green pale leaves)
4 anchovy fillets
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shavings

Home Made Crouton Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Then place bread on cutting board for slicing:

2. Slice bread in one inch slices:

3. Slice each piece in half length-wise, then cut in thirds:

4. Cut 10 cloves of garlic in half and and put in a small pot with the olive oil and butter. Warm over medium heat until butter melts. Turn off heat and let pot cool for 10 minutes.

5. Combine melted butter/oil/garlic mixture with salt, pepper and bread in large bowl and toss:

6. Spread on jelly sheet and put in oven and bake for 20 minutes:

Caesar Salad Directions
  1. Using a fork or a pestle, grind/mash the anchovy fillets into a paste.
  2. Use a garlic press to squeeze the 4 garlic cloves and add to the anchovy paste. If you do not have a garlic press, finely mince the garlic and then mash it into the anchovy paste with a fork.
  3. Add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. Whisk to blend.
  4. Crack egg shells and pour two egg yolks into the bowl. In a slow, steady stream, add olive oil and whisk until emulsified.
  5. Add romaine lettuce to the bowl and toss. Divide salad among serving plates. Top with Parmesan cheese shavings and croutons, then serve.
Wine pairing for standalone salad: Sauvignon Blanc
Wine pairing for salad with grilled steak or chicken: Pinot Noir
Wine pairing for salad with grilled lobster: Chardonnay
Wine pairing for salad with grilled shrimp: Sauvignon Blanc

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