Is it my imagination, or can you walk into almost any restaurant and find Caesar Salad as an entree with chicken, shrimp, salmon, or some other kind of “add-on”? I grew up making Julia Child’s classic version and understand the evolving attraction of this fabulous salad.
If you want to create a main dish Caesar Salad for a summer supper, consider using Gardein’s Seven Grain Crispy Tenders or Chipotle Lime Crispy Fingers in place of chicken, shrimp, or salmon. After I bake the tenders or fingers in the oven (according to the package directions), I let them cool slightly, and then either slice them into thick strips or add them whole to my homemade Caesar salad for a protein rich meal.
Please don’t ever use bottled Caesar dressing – it pales in comparison to the real thing, which is very easy to make. To quote Julia: “You will hardly be a Caesar enthusiast if you’ve dined only on restaurant variations with cheap oil, store-bought croutons, garlic powder, and old bottled cheese! But what a marvelous salad it is when prepared with fine fresh ingredients.” (Julia Child, The Way to Cook, pg. 352).
I learned how to make this fabulous salad as a kid, watching Julia on The French Chef. Back in the 1960’s Julia apparently gave no thought to the dangers of ingesting raw eggs, but today I am thankful for Davidson’s Eggs. I love that their eggs are pasteurized, so I never need to worry about serving homemade Caesar Salad to my family.
Always use a wooden salad bowl, and spend the 10 seconds it takes to run a fresh garlic clove over the inside of the bowl. Use impeccably fresh young romaine (I like Earthbound Farms Baby Romaine), and definitely make your own garlic croutons (more about that in a later blog post). Unlike Julia, I often add organic grape tomatoes and sliced cukes for color and contrast, but if you are a purist, use only romaine.
I want to share with you my simple modified version of Julia’s Caesar salad that has kept my carnivore family happy for many years:
Julia’s Caesar Salad (Nancy-style)
1. Rub a fresh garlic clove around the inside of your wooden salad bowl. Add your washed and spun romaine leaves. (Please note that a classic Ceasar uses only whole romaine leaves.)
2. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over the romaine and toss. Add a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper, the juice of one lemon, 1/2 teaspoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce, and toss again.
3. Crack two Davidson’s Eggs onto the salad (no worries, because they are pasteurized), and begin to toss the salad with vigor. Taste and correct seasoning for salt, pepper, and Worcestershire. Then add about 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and toss again.
4. Add your croutons, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers (if you are using them), and then top with your cooked and slightly cooled Gardein tenders or fingers (either left whole or cut into strips).
Serves 4-6 (depending on whether it is a first course or an entree).