In our home, I like to serve salads for dinner sometimes. If I do serve a salad, I know it has to be a hearty one or my family will be hungry a few hours after dinner is over and that is never good. This is a traditional Caesar salad but with some extra protein added for taste and heft. The Caesar dressing I make is one of my favorites. I love to save a little bit for lunch the next day and put it on some kale or even just plain romaine. Since I do not use anchovy fillets, the dressing does not have the fishy taste that most Caesar dressing does but only that je ne sais quoi that comes from the less-intense anchovy paste. I also use mayonnaise instead of raw egg because my young daughter eats the dressing, too. When Alex was in law school in San Diego, he used to dine at De Medici and eat Caesar salads prepared by a man named Juan. Juan used to work at the Caesar Hotel in Tijuana where the Caesar salad was invented. Alex memorized the recipe and the way that Juan prepared the salad, table side. Someday, I will share his recipe with you.
Kicked Up Caesar Salad
with Bacon Fried Croutons
For Caesar Dressing
1/2 cup mayo
juice 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 heads romaine lettuce, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 eggs, hardboiled, cut into quarters
8 strips bacon, chopped, bacon grease reserved in pan
2 cups shredded chicken
croutons (recipe follows)
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
freshly ground black pepper
For Bacon Fried Croutons
1/2 loaf day old French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
bacon grease, leftover from frying bacon above
Combine all dressing ingredients into a bowl and puree with an immersion blender. You can use a food processor or blender if you do not have an immersion blender. Set aside.
Make the croutons. Using the same pan that was used to fry the bacon (a cast iron skillet works best), add the cubed pieces of bread. On medium heat, fry the bread. Stir occasionally until all sides are golden brown and crispy. Taste for flavoring and add salt if necessary. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Compose the salad. In a large bowl or on individual plates, place the lettuce, the chicken, the croutons, and the bacon. Add the hard boiled eggs and a few shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Dress with the Caesar dressing, grind some black pepper on top to taste, and serve immediately.