Tuesday, October 8, 2013

This salad has fangirls

Ok,  fangirl.

She's only one person, but she's pretty fanatical. Last semester, I couldn't get halfway through my first bite before she would ask me when I was planning on making it again. I had to start buying double ingredients so I had an answer for her. Pretty good showing for a salad.

I made fun of her a lot, but the truth is I was delighted. Besides my usual joy in people liking my food, this particular salad is a favorite of mine. Her neurosis  justified my desire to eat it constantly. It's always reassuring when someone shares your addiction. 

Those are croutons, which I made in my kitchen. That's really the only difference between this salad and the Caesars you find in plastic containers at gas stations; the components are homemade. In the interest of blogging, however, I should probably be more detailed. The dressing involves no anchovies (unless you count the tiny amount in Worcestershire sauce) but there is a raw egg, and cheese mixed into the dressing. Also, it's very important you chop the heart of romaine crosswise, and into pretty small pieces- I let my mom handle the lettuce once and my sister was most displeased. Hey! Two fangirls and counting.

Caesar Salad
Special thanks to Ellen (recipe testing goddess) and Andrew (guinea pig extraordinaire)

Note on crouton bread: a baguette is the perfect size and shape for croutons, but in my opinion making croutons out of a baguette is a waste of good bread. You can use pretty much any bread you want - I suggest something  from the 'day old' section of the grocery store - as long as you can slice it very thinly without it crumbling. If that's proving difficult, I suggest throwing it in the freezer for 5 minutes first. Additionally, extra sliced bread can be stored in the freezer for future croutons.

2 hearts of romaine (you know those bags with three? use two)
3/4 cup shredded parmesan, divided
~half of a baguette (see note on crouton bread)
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling (milder is actually better in this case... wooo for generic brands!)
7 drops Worcestershire  sauce
salt, pepper and ground corriander

Preheat oven to 350. Thinly slice bread and arrange flat on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and coriander. Flip all the bread pieces over and do the same to the other side. Bake croutons for 10-20 minutes, until dark brown and crunchy (timing will depend a lot on your oven). 

Next make dressing. Beat the egg in a mid-sized bowl, then whisk in garlic, mustard, and lemon juice. Slowly mix in olive oil, then taste for balance. You want mustard and lemon to be balanced, and a good kick of garlic. Add worsteshire sauce , then cheese, then salt if necessary. Add black pepper to taste (the amount I like is inappropriate for human consumption).

Chop lettuce, then break croutons into smaller pieces and dump the whole mess into a salad bowl. Toss with dressing, then again with remaining cheese. Eat and be merry!

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