If you only knew the things I’d do for a Cae Sal. Or perhaps you already do. To call it my brand would be to grossly underrepresent what this salad means to me. It is the Greatest Salad of All Time (GSOAT). I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, talking about, eating, considering, and developing what I believe is the platonic ideal of a Caesar salad—crisp, cold romaine hearts, a thick peppery, garlicky dressing, lots and lots of Parmesan cheese, homemade croutons, and enough lemon to make it all pop. And while technically you are going to have to make a mayonnaise from scratch in preparing this dressing, it’s actually super-duper easy and not as prone to failure as you might think. Trust.
- Make the croutons: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Tear ½ of a baguette into irregular 1-inch pieces; you should end up with about 3 cups of torn bread. Toss on a rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and a few good cranks of black pepper until well coated. Bake until deeply golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool.
Make the dressing:*
✦ Separate the yolks and whites of 2 large eggs. Place the yolks in a large bowl (where you’ll build your dressing) and reserve the whites for another use. Here’s a quick and easy way to do it!
✦ Finely grate 1 garlic clove and the zest of about half of a lemon into the large bowl. Squeeze in the juice of half of the lemon.
✦ Finely chop 4 anchovies, then mash them to a paste, using the side of a chef’s knife until homogeneous; add to the large bowl.
✦ Add 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and whisk everything to combine. Place a damp kitchen towel underneath the bowl to stabilize it so it doesn’t slip ’n’ slide all over the place as you whisk in the oil.
✦ Starting with a very thin stream at first, whisking constantly as you go, incorporate ½ cup of canola oil into the yolk mixture until it is thick, creamy, and pale yellow. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make mayonnaise by hand!
✦ Whisk in ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, ¾ teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (¼ cup). Taste the dressing on a leaf of romaine—it should be salty, cheesy, and lemony. Make any adjustments necessary until it tastes so good that you’d be happy eating a bowl of it alone with a side of crouts.
*You are about to make mayonnaise by hand, BUT it’s not as hard as it sounds. The mustard, garlic, and anchovies that get mixed into the egg yolk will help support the emulsion.
Prep the lettuce: Tear the leaves of 4 romaine hearts into 2-inch pieces and transfer them to the bowl of dressing. Squeeze the juice of half of the lemon over the romaine, season with salt, and toss the leaves to coat, avoiding incorporating any of the dressing beneath just yet.**
**It’s always a good idea to preseason your greens with some acid and salt so they are zippy and zingy and hold up to the dressing. The lettuce contains water, which is going to dilute the flavor of the dressing, so you’ll always need a little extra acid to combat that.
- Serve: Add the croutons and gently toss the lettuce with your hands until well coated. Add 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (¼ cup) and toss again. Divide among plates and top with more grated Parmesan and black pepper.
Reprinted from Cook This Book. Copyright © 2021 by Molly Baz. Photographs copyright © 2021 by PEDEN+MUNK. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.