“The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook” ~ Julia Child
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Some days, the only thing that sounds good is a salad
And sometimes, those some days are every day, especially in the middle of June when the weather in Iowa has been oscillating between unseasonably hot and heavy rain (with hail!). Around our house, these are the kinds of days we've been having
Salad days, or sort of
Regular readers have realized by this point that we eat a lot of salad at our house.
Between the two of us, we could easily justify a larger than average garden. In fact, one of the first meals we ever shared was a salad of kale, wheat berries, cranberries, with a warm baguette and a disk of Mt Tam on the side.
It's become a regular habit ever since
I realized the other day that most of the time during the summer, we don't cook together as much. Instead, we assemble. This could be a bit disconcerting for two people who claim to be decent cooks, but really, it isn't so bad. Come summer, food is best with minimal fussing, anyway, and no matter the time of year, a good salad is nothing to scoff at
For the past several days, we've been letting our salad tendency run amok
My husband was traveling, and after he returned, we decided some yard work was in order. The weatherman pulled out all of the stops as far as sunshine was concerned. Sweaty, dirty, and after a cool shower, it was the sort of summer's evening that was made for salad and beer on the back deck
And so we answered with a standby salad that's been in our repertoire for a while
It couldn't be simpler: long leaves of romaine, crumbly croutons, and shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano. The dressing, too, couldn't be easier: garlic and anchovies, parmesan, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar. But from there, it's all alchemy. Instead of mayo, which is common variation, this version uses eggs, which is a bit more traditional but just as easy
What results is bright with a kick, a spark that will liven up romaine's cool, watery crunch
All told, on a warm summer's evening, this salad is almost as refreshing as a dip in the pool; cold, a little puckery, creamy, and crisp. With minimal assembly required, I'm sure we'll continue with our Caesar bender
I see no good reason to stop
A few notes about the recipe
The original calls for anchovies packed in salt, although they were hard to come by at our local grocery. Instead, I used the best oil-packed that I could find, rinsed them well and dried them on paper towels. And sprinkled with some salt, about a three-fingers pinch worth
Be sure to dry the romaine leaves as well as you're able as the dressing will cling better
A friend taught me a great tip for applying thick dressings to whole leaves of romaine. She'd slide on a pair of latex gloves, spoon some dressing into the bowl of lettuce and use her hands to gently rub dressing on to each leaf. No worries if you don't use gloves, you just might smell a bit garlicky for a while
~ Adapted from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
Zuni Cafe's Caesar Salad
- 4-5 oz. of day-old artisan bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (gluten-free if you're avoiding gluten)
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- fine grain sea salt
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- ⅔ cup olive oil
- 6-9 anchovy fillets, mashed (or ~ 1 ½ Tbsp minced)
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- 2 large cold eggs
- about ½ ounce grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (the juice from about 1 ½ lemons)
- fine grain sea salt
- 2 large or 3 medium heads of romaine lettuce (you'll want around 1 ½ pounds of usable leaves)
- Preheat the oven to 350 deg F
- In a medium bowl toss the bread cubes with olive oil and lightly season with salt.
- Toss again to make sure each crouton is evenly coated before placing the croutons on a sheet pan. Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes.
- Check for doneness - you're going for something crisp on the outside with a slightly tender on the inside.
- Remove the croutons from the oven and set aside
- Prep the Romaine
- Meanwhile, remove and discard any brown or leathery leaves from the romaine, keeping only the best whole leaves.
- Trim the bottom of the leaves before washing and drying them
- Dry the leaves with a spinner, wrap the greens in paper towels and store in the fridge until you are ready to serve
- In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, oil, anchovies, and garlic
- Add the eggs, a few sprinkles of cheese and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Whisk until completely emulsified.
- Add the lemon juice, making sure to strain out any seeds before adding to the dressing. Whisk again
- Taste the dressing by itself and then with a leaf of lettuce (or a crouton, if you'd like)
- Adjust the flavors as needed
- (You'll have around 1 ½ cups of dressing)
- Assemble and Serve
- Place the romaine in a large salad bowl
- Add most of the dressing, folding and tossing gently until every leaf is coated (add more dressing if needed)
- Dust with most of the remaining parmesan, add most of the croutons and toss again
- To serve, lay out large cold plates, then layer in larger, then medium and then small leaves of the dressed romaine on each plate.
- Add the last splash of dressing to the remaining croutons before evenly distributing them on the plates.
- Add a last dusting of cheese to each
I’m a chronic blog “browser”, except when it comes to The Veggies. Thanks for inspiring me to read AND try new recipes!
This looks so good! I love your recipes. They all seem delicious!
This is not a comment on this post so much as a book recommendation (if you don’t already know about this one): Hidden Nature by Alys Fowler. It might only be available in the UK at the moment, but I think it’s one you’d want to seek out. Her passion for plants mirrors yours for food, and she has been on a similar personal journey. I just love your blog — all the best to you.
There’s nothing quite like a large, delicious salad on a hot summer day. I can’t seem to get enough fresh green salads during the summer months and I’ll add your Ceasar salad to my menu this week.
We eat a ton of salads in the summer time and love finding new ways to make salad. The dressings we like to make from scratch and eat fresh so this is perfect.
Salads this time of year are so perfect cool refreshing and light. A caesar salad is always a favorite and the dressing is what makes it so good.
There is nothing better than a good Ceaser Salad. Its a fav in our home
I often feel the same way in the summer. It’s too hot to slave over a hot stove or heat up the house with the oven!
I have the same habit, me and my husband and Caesar salad is our favorite for most of the summer! Always fresh and delicious!
I bet you’re extremely healthy. I wish I could have more salad days but sometimes it’s just because I have no control. Rubbing dressing onto the leaves seems a lot more work but I wonder how much better it will taste though!
Your recipes always looks so delicious, you are a wonderful cook. This is such a lovely summery recipe that is sure to be a big hit.
I just love a good caesar salad. It’s one of my absolute favorites. I admit, when I make it, it comes in a kit in a bag. This would taste SO much better.
So I was major slacker and used a naan pizza crust but this was amazing!
First of all I love that Julia child’s quote. Second, I am a huge fan of using eggs over mayo. Gives it more flavor and freshness
Your writing feels like a hug from a dear friend, intimate, honest, and full of warmth. You were the very first blog I every signed up for and you are still my favorite.
I have never made a caesar salad at home but admit I order it at restaurants often. I’ll have to give your recipe a try because I just love salads during the summer season.
This salad looks so good right now. I love to eat salads in the middle of the day.
I’m not usually a fan of salads but with berries and kale plus cheese, I imagine it’s a comfort dish that can also help in detox. Salads can be fun!
This salad looks delicious! Would be perfect to make for a nice pinic or when I have family over.
We love eating salads during the summer. They’re just so light and refreshing, especially in this heat.
I’ve been reading your stunning blog for quite a while but have never left a comment. Your writing reminds me of everything that I love about food and also about life. You inspire me so much so thanks to you!
This salad looks amazing, perfect for the summer weather. I love eating salads every day during the hotter months.
There is nothing better than a good Ceaser Salad. Gonna try this at home!
We purchase anchovy paste at our favorite gourmet food store. That way we always have it on hand. The salad looks incredible. Next time you make it, let me know, I’ll be right over. 🙂
I didn’t know anchovies go to the Cesar salad but it makes is even more desirable. I was looking for ideas for my party so maybe I try your salad. Thank you for sharing
I am a big salad fan. This one looks light and tasty. I think anchovies make a great addition to a dressing as they add so much flavour.
No matter what time of year, no one can say no to a good Ceasar salad. Didn’t know you can put anchovies but it sounds like a great idea and a tasty one too.
I love a yummy Ceasar salad. they are always so fresh, crisp and yummy. Ideal side, in the summer, to a hot bbq too x
What a surprise for my husband! This might just knock his socks off. 🙂
I stumbled upon your blog while looking for random recipes. I love the way you write, and looking forward to trying your recipes. Definitely a blog I’ll be following when I’m hungry… which is all the time!!
Mmmm – if I could eat a caesar salad every day I would!! This looks soo yummy + crisp!
Perfection! I eat salad a LOT during the summer because it doesn’t heat up the kitchen and it’s super easy to make. It’s fun to try different dressings as well. I enjoy it, a little too much, I’m afraid. I’d love to try this one!
This is one of our best friend in terms of salad. So healthy and easy to do as well. Perfect for any season. I guess I need to try this recipe so add some twist.
Summers are quite hot where we stay. So salads happen to form a major part of our meals. They are light and easy to make also. Your version of Caesar salad looks really promising. Will try with our own twists, we do add a bit of spice.
I like how light this salad is, my kind of food! I am not much into cheese in a salad but this looks so good. I love nuts in a salad though.
Tried this last night and it was DELICIOUS!! 🙂
I just dug deep into your archives to find a chocolate chip cookie recipe I recalled making. For some reason, our family cannot agree on cookies, but the New York Times recipe you adapted made everyone happy. Sifting through several years of blogs to find the recipe made me realize what an incredibly complex, rich, delicious, wondrous story you have already lived!
I just LOVE your writing and sentiments and of course, recipes!
I love how salads can be quick to prepare before I have such yummy crunchy dishes in my mouth. Anyway, Caesar salad looks as yummy as the name; I love the dressing and the serving even more!
I bet this is so good! Caesar salad is one of my favorite kinds of salads.
Mostly not eating so much spicy recipes at summer …don’t know why but would like to eat some fresh and less spicy food in hot days…salads are great…and, of course, you just give a great recipe to make at home as always…thanks..love your recipes.
It looks so so good! And I love that you didn’t chop the lettuce up into small pieces. I like them as leaves. So pretty!
Salads are great in summer. We all crave light and watery foods to beat the heat!
If we weren’t both heterosexual women and already married I’d get down on my knee and propose to you because in addition to my unspeakable affection for Happy Joes, oh my gawd do I love taco pizza. Really. I absolutely love it.
I love everything about a Caesar salad: the crunchy Romaine salad, the croutons, the creamy salad dressing… It’s one of my favourite things to eat. Great recipe, and your photos are beautiful!
I’m glad you posted this. Saw the empty(ish) plate on Instagram. And thought, hot damn, we’ve been left in the cold on this recipe. Except a few hours later we weren’t.
As usual, I don’t even know what I love more – the atmospheric story or the easy recipe. The way you describe how your husband comes in from the garden….in a movie I see Meryl Streep in a checkered shirt washing the salad leaves….wiping a loose strand of hair with her sleeve. Of course, the man in this scenario would not be your husband…. 😀
This looks like a scrumptious salad but I am mad on mayo so I might have to add a little squirt 🙂
It’s boiling here in London at the moment and all I can eat is salad! Caesar is my favourite but I’ve never tried to make the dressing from scratch before, let’s give this a go 🙂
Caesar is my favorite salad! I love it both in classical form, and do improvisation with dressing. Your salad looks very tasty!