Bring the classic Caesar salad back into your kitchen as we show you how to recreate this delicious original salad recipe with a lip-smacking homemade creamy Caesar dressing.
- Why You’ll Love This Salad
- What Makes An Amazing Caesar Salad?
- Where Did Caesar Salad Originate?
- What Goes In Caesar Salad Original Recipe
- Do We Need To Use Anchovies In Caesar Salad Dressing?
- Recipe Overview
- Variations and Substitutions
- How To Make Homemade Croutons
- How to Make the Caesar Salad Dressing
- How to Assemble the Salad
- What To Eat With Classic Caesar Salad?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why You’ll Love This Salad
It has been a very long time since I made a Caesar salad. In my early uni days, it was like my “grown-up” thing to order at popular cafes and restaurants. Anchovies and all. Then for some reason, it disappeared from cafes and was replaced by smashed avo as the fashionable menu item.
Caesar salad popped up recently on a menu at a local restaurant, and we decided to order it. Oh, the memories and flavours all came rushing back.
Briny, but in a good way.
All good food memories, not nightmares. There is a reason why Caesar salad is a classic salad recipe.
After that day, I decided I needed to make this iconic salad again at home.
What Makes An Amazing Caesar Salad?
There is a fine balance between making a bad, soggy Caesar salad and one so addictive you want more.
A good classic Caesar salad is unapologetic with lots of umami flavour. Success hinges very much on the creamy Caesar dressing. A poor Caesar salad dressing will just ruin the whole experience because there are not many ingredients in the classic recipe.
You can easily buy a bottle of pre-made Caesar salad dressing. Nothing wrong with the bottled version. However, the homemade Caesar dressing can be SO.MUCH.MORE.
My homemade Caesar dressing is not perfectly pureed but smooth enough to have a lush finish. Plus, the added savoury anchovy flavours hand mashed through it with a hint of garlic add a good balance of acidity.
Mingle this creamy Caesar dressing with the right amount of fresh cos lettuce, crunchy homemade croutons and a mountain of parmesan cheese, and you have a delicious and satisfying homemade Caesar salad that everyone will love.
I am not sure if it’s because the homemade version is slightly imperfect that makes it so perfect.
I am not reinventing the wheel here, as the recipe I am using is based on the original Caesar salad version.
And once you have mastered the original, you can add your own variations to this delicious classic original Caesar salad recipe.
Where Did Caesar Salad Originate?
The salad is not named after Julius Caesar, ruler of Rome. It is not that old.
The classic Caesar salad originated in Mexico. Yup, you read right. Tijuana in Northern Mexico, to be exact.
The story goes that chef Caesar Cardini was running short on a few ingredients in his restaurant and decided to put together this salad recipe at the last minute. Hence the name Caesar salad.
His customers eventually took a similar recipe back to LA, where it caught on popularity and then made its way around America and eventually around the globe to become the iconic salad it is today.
What Goes In Caesar Salad Original Recipe
Today there are many different variations of Caesar salad. You will find Caesar salad with chicken, bacon, poached eggs, avocado, shrimp, mayo/no mayo, anchovies/no anchovies or even switch to kale. The list is endless!
However, the original recipe for Caesar salad is very simple.
Main ingredients included romaine lettuce, croutons, eggs, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.
The most controversial part of this list is that no one knows for sure if anchovies were a part of the Caesar salad original recipe.
Do We Need To Use Anchovies In Caesar Salad Dressing?
Ok, I know many people have an adverse effect with anchovies. However, I don’t quite understand as we love anchovies here.
So if the Caesar salad original recipe did not necessarily include anchovies, do we need to use anchovies in the modern-day creamy Caesar dressing recipe?
For me, it is a big YES! I feel the anchovies give the homemade Caesar dressing the true essence of umami flavour.
We are essentially making a mayonnaise base with egg yolks and olive oil, but the added anchovies and other ingredients make the emulsification much more. Without it, it just feels like cos lettuce with mayonnaise.
Of course, there are options to substitute anchovies, but if you can try once with anchovies in the homemade Caesar dressing, then please do.
Flavour/Texture: With such simple ingredients in the actual Caesar salad, there is so much texture going on. The crisp cos lettuce leaves with the crunchy homemade croutons all lathered up with the creamy umami homemade Caesar dressing is divine.
The anchovies add the extra punch with lots of parmesan cheese in the creamy caesar dressing, making this salad so addictive.
Ease: The hardest part is actually getting the consistency of the Caesar salad dressing right. It takes a little while to make sure the emulsification works with the oil and egg yolks. Don’t rush the process. Once this is done, the rest of the Caesar salad is easy peasy.
Time: This Caesar salad doesn’t take long to assemble. Although I have said not to rush the salad dressing, it doesn’t actually take long to make. I would say at most 25 minutes, including making the homemade croutons.
These are the ingredients you need for Classic Caesar Salad.
Bread: I used fresh bread for my homemade croutons, but leftover bread is excellent for this process. Any kind of bread is fine to tear or cut up into small chunks for the croutons.
Olive oil: We will use olive oil in the Caesar salad dressing and coat the bread for croutons. You can use extra virgin olive oil for the croutons; however, a good quality olive oil or neutral-tasting oil is fine.
Anchovies: The anchovy fillets we need for this Caesar salad recipe are the ones that have been filleted, salted and stored in oil. Typically sold in a jar or canned and found in the canned fish section. These anchovy fillets are dark brown and ready to eat or used in cooking.
Raw egg yolk: This is the base of the emulsification process in the homemade Caesar dressing. We are basically making a mayonnaise base, and raw egg yolk is essential to this process.
Parmesan cheese: Caesar salad would not be complete without a generous serving of grated parmesan – in both dressing and on top of the salad. The salty creaminess it adds is second to none.
Cos / Romaine lettuce: The main salad ingredient in this Caesar salad recipe. There are variations to what salad leaves people use, but for me, cos lettuce is the one and only. Cos AKA romaine lettuce has sturdy green leaves that curl slightly up, perfect to catch all the deliciousness of the Caesar salad dressing.
Variations and Substitutions
Vegan option: To create a vegan caesar salad dressing, you will need to substitute the anchovies, eggs and parmesan cheese with alternative vegan products.
Vegan mayonnaise is a good option for the creamy part of the dressing, or I have seen recipes that use hummus or cashew cream.
Anchovy substitute: To replace anchovies in the homemade Caesar dressing, use Worcestershire sauce or chopped capers. Worcestershire sauce was in the original Caesar salad recipe and had similar umami flavours as anchovies.
However, Worcestershire sauce is not vegan as it contains anchovies or fish sauce. If you need a vegan-friendly ingredient in place of anchovies, use capers.
Raw eggs: If you prefer not to use raw eggs, you can use mayonnaise instead. You just need to adjust the oil required as you don’t need as much.
Gluten-free option: Substitute regular bread for gluten free croutons or add roasted chickpeas instead of homemade croutons.
Variations to Caesar salad: There are many ingredients you can add to your classic caesar salad recipe. Here are some delicious options to try:
- grilled chicken
- crispy bacon
- seared salmon
- roasted chickpeas
- replace cos lettuce for kale
- grilled lettuce
- shaved parmesan instead of grated parmesan
Serve individually: A popular trend has seen Caesar salad served as individual Caesar salad boats. Instead of tearing up romaine lettuce into bite sizes, keep the individual leaves whole and use them like lettuce boats.
Add your salad ingredients like croutons, grilled chicken, avocado, shaved parmesan etc., into the lettuce boats and then dress the salad individually.
Step by step instructions for how to make classic Caesar salad.
How To Make Homemade Croutons
If you have leftover bread, making homemade croutons is a great way to use it up.
Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F.
Tear or cut up bread into 2-3 cm chunks.
Toss bread with 1 tbsp olive oil and place on a baking sheet.
Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Once done, remove from the oven to cool down.
How to Make the Caesar Salad Dressing
The homemade Caesar dressing is what really makes this salad so delicious and authentic.
You can purchase anchovy paste in a tube, but I prefer to make my own.
Finely chop together anchovy fillets and garlic.
Add a pinch of salt to the chopped anchovy and garlic mixture.
Then, using the knife blade’s side, start to mash the anchovies, garlic, and salt into a paste. You might need to chop and mash in between a few times. Continue the process until it becomes a paste.
In a large mixing bowl, add anchovy garlic paste, egg yolks, Dijon mustard and lemon juice.
Start to whisk everything together and gradually add olive oil as you whisk.
You must not rush this process to make sure the olive oil fully emulsifies with egg yolk. If you add too fast, it may not combine and split.
Keep whisking until the salad dressing is thick, glossy and turns pale.
Add ½ of the grated parmesan to salad dressing and stir in until well combined.
How to Assemble the Salad
Wash and tear up cos lettuce into small bite-sized pieces.
Add cos lettuce leaves to your mixing bowl with the salad dressing.
Toss lettuce until well coated with salad dressing. I like to use my hands with Caesar salads to ensure all the leaves are covered with the delicious dressing.
Add remaining grated parmesan to salad.
Add homemade croutons and toss again to cover with salad dressing.
Transfer to a serving plate.
Finish with grated parmesan and cracked black pepper.
What To Eat With Classic Caesar Salad?
What to serve with classic caesar salad? Try these delicious recipes.
A good Caesar salad needs a good chicken main. This Pepián de pollo – guatemalan spiced chicken stew is the ultimate comfort food. for fish lovers, this Za’atar salmon with lemon herb couscous would complement the Caesar salad beautifully. For a truly easy meal, you can’t go wrong with pan seared pork chops. Yum!
Frequently Asked Questions
Due to the amount of fat used in the oil and cheese for the salad dressing, Caesar salad would not be on top of the healthy salad list. I am not a nutritionist, so I can not advise you on this matter, but I can say to have everything in moderation.
You can prepare the homemade croutons and salad dressing ahead of time, but I would give it another whisk before serving. Toss salad when you are ready to serve.
Prepare and store the elements of the Caesar salad recipe separately for transport. Then toss together at the destination when ready to serve.
Caesar salad may no longer be as popular in cafes and restaurants, but there will always be a place in my kitchen for this classic Caesar salad recipe.
The homemade Caesar dressing transforms this simple salad with lettuce leaves and croutons into a delicious salad I can share. Perfect for barbecues and gatherings, a familiar and satisfying Caesar salad recipe that everyone will love.
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Classic Caesar Salad with Homemade Caesar Dressing [VIDEO]
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F.
- Tear or cut up bread into 2-3 cm chunks. Toss bread with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Once done, remove from the oven to cool down.
- Wash and tear up cos lettuce leaves into bite-sized pieces.
- Finely chop together anchovy fillets and garlic.
- Add a pinch of salt to the chopped anchovy and garlic mixture.
- Use the side of the knife blade and mash the anchovies, garlic and salt into a paste.
- In a large mixing bowl, add anchovy garlic paste, egg yolks, Dijon mustard and lemon juice. Start to whisk everything together and gradually add olive oil as you whisk. Keep whisking until the salad dressing is thick, glossy and turns pale.
- Add grated parmesan to salad dressing and stir in until well combined.
- Add cos lettuce leaves to your mixing bowl with the salad dressing. Toss lettuce until well coated.
- Add another generous amount of grated parmesan.
- Add homemade croutons and toss again to cover with salad dressing.
- Transfer to a serving plate.
- Finish with grated parmesan and cracked black pepper.
- Can use anchovy paste if available rather than chopping your own anchovy fillets.
- For a vegan salad, substitute the anchovies, eggs and parmesan cheese with alternative vegan products. You can use hummus, vegan mayonnaise or cashew cream for the creamy part of the dressing.
- To replace anchovies in the Caesar salad dressing, use Worcestershire sauce or chopped capers. However, Worcestershire sauce is not vegan as it contains anchovies or fish sauce.
- If you need a vegan friendly ingredient in place of anchovies, use capers.
- If you prefer not to use raw eggs, you can use mayonnaise instead. You just need to adjust the oil required as you don’t need as much.
- Substitute normal bread for gluten free bread croutons or add roasted chickpeas instead of homemade croutons for a gluten free salad.
- Here are some popular ingredients to add to your Caesar salad:
– grilled chicken
– crispy bacon
– seared salmon
– roasted chickpeas
– replace cos lettuce for kale
– grilled lettuce
shaved parmesan instead of grated parmesa- n
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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