Twenty years ago, my husband and I received a beautiful wooden salad bowl with a stand and tongs along with a salad cookbook, “James McNair’s Salads,” as a wedding gift. The stand is long gone but we still use the large bowl and I have memorized the recipe for Caesar Salad with homemade garlic croutons – and serve it on special occasions!
Here’s the recipe from the cookbook and a brief excerpt from the Author’s Introduction:
Since its inception in a Tijuana restaurant, this classic has never gone completely out of favor. Recent years have seen the resurgence of its popularity in America’s trendsetting restaurants.
I prefer to leave the lettuce leaves whole, to be picked up with the fingertips for nibbling. If you would rather use a fork, break the leaves before tossing them with the dressing.
The dressing may be made without the traditional coddled egg; a drizzle of heavy cream will add the richness normally provided by the egg. James McNair
Wash, dry, and chill the lettuce leaves. Prepare the Croutons
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- About 1/2 cup fruity olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
- 2 tablespoons minced or pressed garlic
- 4 cups day-old bread, preferably French style, cut into cubes or thin slices.
- In a large sauté pan or skillet, melt the butter with the oil over medium-low heat
- Add the garlic and bread and toss until the bread pieces are well coated.
- Reduce the heat to low (or transfer to a preheated 350º F oven) and cook, stirring and turning frequently, until the bread is golden on all sides, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer the bread to paper toweling to drain and cool slightly.
- Use immediately, or cool completely, then store in an airtight container for up to 1 day.
- 4 medium-sized heads romaine lettuce, tough outer leaves discarded, separated into about 48 leaves
- 4 cups Croutons, made with plenty of garlic
CAESAR DRESSING INGREDIENTS
- 3 eggs
- 6 flat anchovy fillets, drained and minced
- 1 tablespoon minced or pressed garlic
- 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 1 cup fruity olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
- About 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- About 1/4 teaspoon salt
- About 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, preferably parmigiano-reggiano
- Freshly ground black pepper for serving
- Just before serving the salad, prepare the dressing.
- Bring a small post of water to a rapid boil over high heat. Place the eggs, one at a time, on a spoon, lower them into the boiling water, and boil for 1 minute. Transfer the eggs to cold water to cool. Break the eggs, separating the yolks into a small bowl; discard the whites.
- Add the anchovy fillets, garlic, mustard oil and about half of the lemon juice to the yolks and whisk to blend.
- Whisk in the remaining lemon juice, or more to taste, and salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl, combine the whole lettuce leaves, about half of the croutons, and half of the cheese.
- Add the dressing to taste and toss well.
- Arrange the salad on a serving platter or individual plates.
- Sprinkle the remaining croutons and cheese and serve immediately.
- Pass a pepper mill at the table.
Serves 10 to 12 as a salad course, or 6 to 8 as a light main course