I was so lucky to grow up in a home that had salad as a staple of every dinner, and almost every dinner, my mom, dad, brother and I ate together. Seriously, let that sink in for a minute. I am so thankful for this routine I had growing up. It instilled in me a love for vegetables, so deep that now I have them in almost every meal. And although I found it annoying growing up when my father would look at me and say “Mouth,” to remind me to chew with my mouth closed, I am so thankful for that time together. But back to the salad - the hallmark of our home. The salad has always been Caesar, and even 15 years after my mom started making it for us, we’ve never grown sick of it. I often bring it to potlucks, because it’s super easy and always rings comforting notes with party guests. On top of its ease and extreme likability, what makes this classic so enduring for our family is our continuing evolution to improve it. While we may have started with store-bought dressing and croutons, we now insist on making our own (thanks Genius Kitchen for the best dressing recipe ever!), and dressing it up with different accoutrements to keep things interesting. I’ve included both the classic recipe below, along with some optional add-ons depending on the season and your palette. Enjoy!
Two crisp heads of organic romaine or red leaf lettuce
Mayonnaise (Avocado Mayo is preferred)
Worcestershire Sauce (can substitute with soy sauce if you are out)
Salt and pepper
Sourdough, Rosemary, or Columbia bread
Kalamata Olives (Winter/Fall)
Pulled Chicken (Year-Round)
Cherry Tomatoes (Spring/Summer)
*This recipe serves four people as a side to a main course. Adjust proportions accordingly for larger or smaller groups.
Wash and chop lettuce and place in a large bowl. Slices of romaine should be no more than 1 inch wide, and I prefer them on the smaller side, closer to a half inch.
To make the dressing (reprinted from Genius Kitchen), combine 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ¾ teaspoon mustard, ¾ teaspoon worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, ¼ cup mayonnaise and several grinds of salt and pepper in either a medium bowl or the jar that you plan to store the dressing in. Whisk with a fork. What you’re about to do next is the essential ingredient to good, creamy caesar, dressing, and it’s actually a technique- pour ½ cup olive oil into a measuring cup, and slowly pour the oil from that cup into your bowl while continuously whisking.
Once you’ve combined your dressing, you can either add ¼ cup of parmesan cheese to the dressing, or grate it directly on the salad. If you omit the cheese from the dressing, you can keep it longer in the fridge.
Cube 2-3 slices of bread and turn a medium frying pan to low-medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic to the pan. When the oil just starts to bubble, add the cubed bread in an even layer. Saute for 3 minutes on each side, until croutons are just crisp.
Toss warm croutons, fresh grated Parmesan, lettuce and dressing together in a large bowl. Add desired accoutrements, and serve immediately.