The Caesar salad must be just about the most popular and well-known salad in the world. Often believed to be an American classic, this famous salad was actually invented in 1924 in Tijuana, Mexico.
So this is the perfect continuation of my recent Mexican phase. But I’m bringing it into the BBQ season, because it is hot hot hot outside. Casually throwing some lettuce on the barbie adds a satisfying smokiness.. If the weather is not playing ball (this is England after all), you can achieve similar indoors on a grill pan or under the grill all year round.
It’s definitely worth making your own dressing. It’s the dressing that makes or breaks a Caesar salad after all. Too many bottled dressings also lack the most essential ingredient: anchovies.
Now, don’t run away or hide under the sofa. Anchovies add an unmistakable savoury depth, real umami that no amount of salt or Worcestershire sauce can make up for. It will not taste fishy. I promise.
If you want to know more about the origin of Caesar salad, Seriouseats has a great write up about it for your amusement. Plus the recipe for a classic version for the traditionalists among you.
You can add crispy bacon, grilled chicken or extra anchovies if you like. Personally, I prefer the charred lettuce to speak . Nay. I prefer the charred lettuce and the feisty dressing to have a proper conversation, without other party-guests interfering.
Charred Caesar Salad (serves 4 – GF DF RSF)Ingredients
2 Romaine or Cos lettuce, halved
For the dressing:
1 clove of (confit) garlic
the juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime
1 egg yolk
1 tsp English mustard powder or prepared mustard (English or Dijon)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
200 ml rapeseed oil or olive oil (not extra virgin if using a blender according to Julia Child)
1 tbsp anchovy oil or anchovy essence
For the “croutons”:
2 pieces of (GF) flatbread, cut into triangles (I used non-GF Manoucher folded barbaree bread this time
2-3 tbsp confit garlic oil, else a neutral oil such as olive or rapeseed, or your favourite flavoured oil
To serve: freshly grated Parmesan
Heat the grill.
Add the garlic egg yolk, citrus juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and anchovies to the jug of a blender. Blend until smooth. Mix the oil with the anchovy oil or anchovy essence, then start adding the blended oil a few drips at the time until starting to thicken. You can then continue adding the oil in a thin continuous stream until all used up.
Check the seasoning and season with to taste with pepper and a little more citrus if needed. You likely won’t need to add salt, as the anchovies will have added their own salty twist already.
Cut the flatbread into triangles and brush with your chosen oil. Grill for a few minutes, turn, brush the other side with oil and grill for a further few mins until it’s hot and toasty. Remove and keep warm.
Brush the lettuce halves with a little oil or garlic oil. Grill until charred but not cremated.
You can use a grill pan or BBQ for both the lettuce and flatbread if you prefer.
Serve the charred lettuce with the dressing generously drizzled over, plenty of freshly grated Parmesan and the grilled flatbread.