I love a really well made Caesar salad. Super cold crisp romaine tossed in garlicky dressing and topped with crusty croutons. Pair that with a really good steak and I can do it every day. But making your own traditional Caesar dressing can be tricky, as I learned.
My ex-neighbors dad once made the most perfect tasting Caesar with anchovies and raw eggs.
However, when I tried replicating it, it was a big fail. The whole anchovies and raw egg thing always intimidated me and I have yet to come across a store bought dressing that doesn’t taste too vinegary or isn’t packed with ton of additives.
So I pretty much gave up on the idea of homemade Caesar until recently.
Last week I made roasted chicken with potatoes (delish btw and recipe coming soon) and Caesar salad was the perfect side to that hearty dish. I came across a recipe from The Best of Fine Cooking magazine (Fall 2011) for a Lemony Chicken Caesar Salad with Garlic-Parmesan Toasts and I instantly fell in love. I omitted the chicken and changed the recipe a bit but overall it’s an excellent dressing and easy to make. No anchovies or raw egg science in this one!
This version is much lighter than most Caesar dressings out there. Packed with lemon juice and zest, which adds a nice subtle tanginess, while mascarpone, instead of traditional raw egg yolks, add richness. You can also use cream cheese instead of mascarpone. But the dressing is a perfect combination of tangy and creamy. Garlic-Parmesan toasts is a different take on the traditional croutons. I crushed some of the toasts over the salad and served some alongside. Either way works. Overall the dressing is zesty, creamy, garlicky and easy, which I love!
I used leftovers as a spread for my BLT . You can also add it to pasta salads, pasta bakes, or wraps. Super yummy and I promise you will never go back to store bought. EVER.
- 1 lemon
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 Tbsp. mascarpone (or cream cheese)
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 small garlic clove
- ¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp. dry thyme
- couple dashes of Tabasco sauce
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 small garlic cloves, pressed
- ⅛ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ baguette, sliced ½-inch thick on extreme diagonal (about 6-8 slices)
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 2 romaine hearts, cored, washed and torn into bite size pieces
- Grate 1 Tbsp. zest from the lemon. Juice the lemon to get 2 Tbsp.of juice. Set the remainder of the lemon aside.
- In a food processor, puree lemon juice, Parmigiano, mascarpone, mustard, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. You may need to stop the processor to scrape the sides.
- While the food processor is running, drizzle in the oil, slowly, as the mixture thickens and emulsifies.
- Add lemon zest, thyme, and Tabasco. Season with salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice as needed. Continue pureeing the mixture until thoroughly combined.
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- In a small bowl, combine extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.
- Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and brush with oil mixture. Reserve ¼ cup of Parmigiano and sprinkle the rest on top of the bread slices.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until browned. Set aside to cool.
- In a large salad bowl, toss the romaine with the dressing (you might not need it all). Sprinkle with the reserved ¼ cup of Parmigiano and serve along with toasts.