Saturday, December 30, 2017

Caesar Salad: The Real Deal

In May of 2011, I posted a Caesar salad recipe that I had been using for years. And I was using it all the way up to the end of 2017, when I stumbled upon the original recipe for Caesar Salad. The Caesar Salad I had been making was heavy (2 egg yolks) and very garlicky (4 cloves of garlic). For Christmas dinner this year, I made Caesar Salad using the original recipe. It was light, zesty and very refreshing...a completely different experience.

The original recipe was created by Caesar Cardini. Most people think the salad originated in Italy. I know I was shocked to find that the salad was created in Tijuana, Mexico. Mr. Cardini opened his restaurant, Caesar's, in Tijuana in 1927. Tijuana was a popular destination then as many Americans crossed the border to escape Prohibition.

Caesar's became one of the most popular restaurants in Tijuana. And it's most popular menu item was the incredible Caesar Salad. It was a salad made with romaine lettuce, lots of anchovies and a surprise ingredient...lime juice. Yes, you read that right. I had been making Caesar Salad with lemon juice for the last 45 years. The original recipe used lime juice...and it absolutely transforms the salad!

The salad was served on a plate with several large croutons. There were no utensils accompanying the was meant to be eaten by hand like a plate of French fries. For the croutons, I find it best to use a baguette of crusty bread. A hard crust and chewy interior makes the best croutons. And they should be big. As you can see in the photo above, I cut a 1-1/2 inch slice from the loaf and then cut that into 6 large croutons after toasting the bread in a skillet. Each person should get 3 to 4 croutons on their salad. This recipe makes 4 side salads.


For the Croutons
1/2 baguette, cut into 1-1/2 inch slices
1 garlic clove, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For the Salad
1 clove garlic, minced
8 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and finely chopped
1 large egg yolk
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup olive oil
1 head chilled romaine lettuce, leaves separated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Make the croutons. Rub bread with garlic. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bread in a single layer and toast until crisp and golden, 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat, sprinkle with salt and Parmesan. Then cut into croutons.
  2. Make the dressing in a large wooden bowl. Use a spoon to mix garlic with anchovies to form a paste. Add egg yolk and squeeze lime over egg yolk and then stir to blend (the lime juice will partially "cook" the yolk). Add the Worcestershire, mustard, pepper and half of the grated cheese and mix to form a loose paste. Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, vigorously stirring until dressing is thick and glossy, 2 minutes.
  3. Make the salad. Gently roll whole lettuce leaves in bowl with dressing until coated. Transfer to  salad plates and top with the remaining Parmesan and croutons. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pairing: Anchovies and lime juice make this salad very difficult to pair with wine. Any red is certainly off the table. Wine drinkers would best be served by selecting a very dry, white wine like Mer Soleil Unoaked Chardonnay ($19.99 at Total Wine). If you fancy beer, this salad goes great with a Belgian-style blond ale like Duval.

Me and Goldie, 1956

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