Caesar Salad has always been one of my favorite salads. I remember watching the dressing being made fresh at a fine restaurant, next to our table, when I was a small child. Eaten alone, or with cold or hot chicken or salmon, it makes a great meal.
I learned to make Caesar dressing at home because I wanted to eat it more often, while avoiding the preservatives often added to store-bought dressings. I also much prefer the taste of lemon juice to white distilled vinegar.
When I’m at an Italian or Greek restaurant or pizza parlor, I have sometimes asked for crushed garlic, a wedge of lemon, olive oil and anchovies. Then I’ll use the parmesan cheese shaker on the table to make myself my own dressing on the spot, with no additives or distilled vinegar!
Perhaps the ingredients of anchovy and raw egg come as a surprise to some. Anchovies are little salty fish – they come in a tin or a glass jar – and they add a very distinctive taste which some love and others really don’t like at all.
The egg is needed to help the olive oil thicken, into a sort of white mayonnaise. I do not worry about getting salmonella from the raw egg. I buy as high-quality, fresh organic eggs as I can, if I don’t raise the laying hens myself. Good bacteria in the gut overcomes bad bacteria and people have eaten raw eggs for hundreds of years.
If you worry about salmonella, you can pasturize a raw egg in boiling water for a minute or so, to kill bad bacteria. I’ve forgotten the exact timing but basically, you don’t want to boil it until it turns into a soft-boiled egg, you just want to heat it up, to kill bacteria. Personally, I want the benefits of the raw egg, and I figure the freshly cut garlic will help kill bad bacteria, too.
Here’s what you’ll need for this Salad:
1 head Romaine Lettuce, washed and broken into small pieces – I’ve also used finely chopped Bok Choy, Red Leaf or Green Leaf Lettuce, Napa Cabbage or even Mesclun (for a much less crisp salad but it is still delicious in flavor!)
And the simple, six-ingredients for my dressing recipe, used in the order listed:
1 Raw Egg, beaten in a medium-sized bowl with high sides
Juice and pith from one fresh Lemon
4-6 cloves of fresh Garlic (not pre-chopped garlic from a jar!)
1 cup Olive Oil – I usually use a high-quality greenish extra-virgin oil sold in greenish glass because so much olive oil sold in America is cut with other lesser-quality oils
The Olive Oil pictured is not a high quality oil and thus has a milder flavor. Extra-virgin, pure unheated olive oil is extremely good for the body – it’s slightly bitter taste is actually good for you.
Organic Olive Oil is really best, because otherwise you are probably eating the chemicals sprayed onto olive trees. I met a man in New Zealand who had a nerve disorder from working in an olive grove in Italy.
I remember going to Montreal for an International Food Festival once, and tasting about thirty different olive oils from all around the world! Spain had wonderful tasting oils. This tasting room was enlightening – I can picture it now. When you begin to realize how important the Olive Tree is to different countries and how many places press and preserve it…
The Olive Tree
In New Zealand I met a man who exported olive oil. I learned the trees can bear some fruit just a few years after being planted.
Another little known fact I read is Olive Trees produce their best fruit after they are eighty years old! So, in planting an olive grove, you would be preparing for your grandchildren.
Pretty amazing, olives. They symbolize wisdom, peace and a bunch of other really neat things!
I’ve gotten distracted, back to the dressing ingredient list:
1 tin Flat Anchovies – rolled anchovies contain capers and these change the flavor
1 cup Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese, I usually buy imported cheese unless domestic cheese can be found without Bovine Growth Hormone
1/4 teaspoon unrefined, unwashed Sea Salt
Freshly grated Black pepper – ½ tsp or to taste – adds a very distinctive flavor
Cayenne pepper – one pinch
Soon you’ll be able to mix up this dressing quickly, without looking at the instructions!
It takes me about 1/2-an-hour to make the dressing and I usually use only half of it, or less, keeping the rest to use over the next few days. It will keep a few days in the fridge.
How to Make Caesar Salad Dressing
Beat the egg with a fork.
Then peel the garlic cloves and press the garlic into the bowl if you have a garlic press. If you don’t have a press, no worries, just finely mince the cloves and add – minced fresh garlic will work just fine. The olive oil will really cut down on the strength of the garlic taste, so I like to add a lot of garlic. This depends on your own constitution and stomach, so adjust to taste.
Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice, saving the peels for later use.
Now slowly beat in the olive oil, drizzling it as best you can with one hand, using a fork in the other. This technique allows the dressing to thicken.
You can usually feel and see the dressing thicken. I stop to taste it, and if the lemon taste is too strong, just keep adding olive oil. I don’t measure the oil anymore, so each dressing comes out slightly differently each time I make it.
I add the anchovy oil from the tin, too.
Once you have the dressing, take the entire tin of anchovies (if using a glass jar, use around 12 anchovies), and dump them onto a wooden cutting board. Mince the anchovies finely. Then mix these little pieces to the dressing.
Pull the pith away from the lemon rind. Add pith to the dressing mixture. Lemon pith (and rind) from organic lemons are said to actually kill cancer cells!
Add freshly grated black pepper, a pinch of cayenne pepper and ¼ tsp sea salt.
JUST BEFORE YOU EAT the salad, add some dressing to the bowl of Romaine Lettuce pieces and stir to coat each piece of lettuce. If you add dressing and then wait awhile, the lettuce will go limp.
Add Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese to the top of your salad to taste, or omit it entirely if you are sensitive to dairy products.
It’s very good even without the cheese!
Note: Caesar Salad is often served with croutons, but because most store-bought croutons are full of MSG and other preservatives and flavorings, I just avoid them. If you are gluten intolerant, it’s also a good idea to nix the croutons. I happen to love the way croutons crunch and so will make my own in the oven for special occasions, but this salad is so very delicious just as it is!!!
Additional Notes: I’ve added vegetables like grated carrot, etc. to this basic lettuce salad.
I used to add ½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce to this dressing – but again, most include MSG…and vinegar. I’ve found I like this dressing without this ingredient. You may do as you wish. And if you look, there are Worcestershire sauces available in health food stores which do not contain harmful ingredients.
For Health, Healing and Great Dinners with Good Friends,
P.S.: Olive wood was used to build the entryway into the oracle (or shrine, the innermost part of the sanctuary) of Solomon’s temple ~ I Kings 6:31-33. Doors, lintel and side posts were olive wood. By Old Testament law, fruit trees are protected and not to be decimated and used for making bulwarks against the enemy ~ Deuteronomy 20:19-20.