I've always liked Caesar Salad but have been put off in making it because of the effort and length of time to make the dressing. You are in effect making a mayonnaise with all that whipping of an egg and vinegar. Plus the thought of salmonella in the fresh egg makes me reluctant to serve it on the family dinner table. So there you have it - all my excuses. ;) Whether thru health concern, lack of time or just plain laziness I've thought of enough in not doing this from scratch. So you could just imagine how long we've suffered through store-bought Caesar Salad with ready-made croutons and its creamy sauce in a plastic packet [*over-acting mode on*].
Beginner's Caesar's Salad
1 large romaine or cos lettuce - torn or cut into large pieces
1 cooked or grilled chicken breast [optional] - sliced in bite-sized pieces
3 thick slices of crusty bread (ciabatta, baguette, etc) - diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
5 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar
2 anchovies from a tin or bottle
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove* - crushed or minced [see Note]
extra shaved or grated parmesan cheese
- Make the croutons:
- Put the diced bread in a non-stick pan. Drizzle the olive oil on it and some salt, making sure that the bread has absorbed all of the oil.
- Fry on medium heat. Turn the bread pieces from time to time. Cook until golden brown.
- Remove from pan and cool completely. *OR*
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Place bread pieces onto a baking tray.
- Drizzle the oil and some salt making sure that bread absorbed the oil.
- Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown, turning then halfway through.
- Remove from oven and cool completely.
- Make the dressing:
- In a bowl, mash the anchovies well.
- Add in the garlic (if using), mayonnaise, and vinegar. Whisk to combine well.
- Stir in the grated parmesan. It should have the consistency of yoghurt. If it's too thick, whisk in some warm water a little at a time.
- To assemble:
- Just before serving, put in a bowl the lettuce, half of the chicken (if using), and half of the croutons, and drizzle most of the dressing. Toss to mix.
- Scatter on top the rest of the croutons and chicken. Drizzle the rest of the dressing. Serve immediately.
*Variations: Instead of chicken, you can put in crumbled crispy fried bacon or flaked tuna.