Caesar salad is my 1am food.
Before I go any farther, I need to acknowledge the fact that I am probably one of the most inconsistent, haphazard, impulsive eaters in the world.
I often cave and buy one of Trader Joe's many plastic tubs of heavenly, chocolate-dipped-whatever while grocery shopping, eat half of the container in one sitting, and by the next day I'm completely disillusioned and wondering why I ever thought miniature peanut butter cups were a good idea. Fickle as the day is long.
I also have very strong and irresistible cravings every couple weeks which usually result in my grabbing Mr. Pedantic by the collar and demanding that we order Chinese take-out, totally disregarding the fact that we just had dinner because I NEED beef and broccoli like, right now.
My brand new husband realized the epitome of my weird eating habits after we had returned to our hotel room the first night of our honeymoon. He returned from showering only to find me sitting on our bed gnawing on a giant piece of leftover steak, only about a half hour after declaring that I was so full I might never eat again.
Sometimes I eat only one meal a day, and then sometimes eat five.
While I am horribly inconsistent, for the past couple months every time I stay up past twelve I crave caesar salad. In London this was easily remedied thanks to room service, but at home the silver tray never seems to arrive.
So, I had to take matters into my own hands.
Meaning, I taught myself to make true caesar dressing so that when the cravings hit, I could grab a head of romaine and go to town.
This is a fantastic caesar salad. It's perfectly salted, the dressing actually to the lettuce, and the croutons are amazingly buttery.
I learned a couple things while trying to prepare the perfect caesar salad.
1. You can never, ever, ever add too much parmesan. I think we already knew that, but it is a good reminder.
2. It is really important to thoroughly dry your romaine before dressing it. I hate it when I order a salad that tastes like water because the lettuce is saturated and the dressing refuses to stick to the wet leaves. A few paper towels will save your salad.
3. Homemade croutons are no longer negotiable. They are also one of the best snacks ever.
I was so excited to eat this salad. SO EXCITED!
However, as soon as I finished the chopping, and toasting, and emulsifying, I could not even enjoy it. It tasted good, like really good.
However, just like every single time I have to smell duck breasts searing (one of the husband's favorite dinners), I could not get beyond the first bite.
I had realized this might be the case as I was chopping the anchovies. The smell was just funky enough to put me off, so when I sat down to enjoy my well-earned snack, the memory of that now-dissipated fragrance ruined my chances of enjoyment. Major bummer.
I don't have any qualms with eating anchovies or duck breasts - I love them. Further more, neither one of them actually smells bad, but for whatever reason, the slight funkiness messes with my brain if have to smell them before they get to my plate.
After expending much mental energy, I contrived the perfect plan to remedy both my illusions and my cravings.
Have your husband make it for you while you sit on your bed watching Victoria and then enjoy it, utterly ignorant of the oddly fragrant ingredients. Problem solved!
Husbands make the best (and cutest) room service.
Classic Caesar Salad
serves 4 / recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
for the croutons
- 3 cups baguette cubes, about 1/2-inch
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium mixing bowl combine olive oil and garlic salt. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread the bread evenly out onto the pan. Bake for 12 minutes, until crisp and golden. Allow to cool while you prepare the dressing.
for the salad & dressing
- 2 heads romaine lettuce
- 6 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- heavy pinch kosher salt
- 2 fresh egg yolks*
- 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 6 tablespoons good quality olive oil
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup parmesan “curls” (run a vegetable peeler along a parmesan wedge to form thin curls)
Rinse romaine and then dry thoroughly by patting with paper towels. If the lettuce is damp, the dressing will not adhere. Cut off the very end of each head and split lengthwise.
Chop anchovies very finely, until they form a rough, thick paste. Transfer to a medium bowl and sprinkle with salt. Add the minced garlic, egg yolks, lemon juice, and dijon mustard and stir to combine.
While whisking constantly, slowly stream in the olive and vegetable oils, forming an emulsion. Do not rush this step, otherwise your dressing will separate.
Whisk in parmesan and black pepper. At this point you can cover the dressing and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Pour the dressing over the romaine and sprinkle with parmesan curls and croutons. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
*The eggs yolks will be used raw in this recipe so please make sure to always buy fresh eggs from a reliable source.