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Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad is a wonderful classic-- salad stacked high with romaine lettuce, croutons, and plenty of Parmesan cheese! This salad is an explosion of flavor combining saltiness with lemony-garlic undertones and a subtle smokiness. The dressing is luxuriously creamy with a pleasant cheesiness and a hit of tanginess to balance it all out.
Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Healthy
Keyword caesar salad
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 437kcal
Cost $6.72

Ingredients

Caesar Salad

  • 2 cups croutons (See Note 1 for homemade option!)
  • 2 heads (~8 cups) romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped (Note 2)
  • Parmesan cheese Freshly grated OR shaved

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup (100g) mayonnaise (I recommend Best Foods)
  • 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste Note 3
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic (~1 clove)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (14g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese Note 4
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

Optional Extras

  • 3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breast cooked and sliced or chopped
  • 3-4 slices thick-cut bacon cooked and chopped
  • 2-4 large eggs hard boiled

Instructions

  • CROUTONS: If making homemade croutons, start here! Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and adjust the rack to the center position. Cut baguette into 1-inch slices and then into 1/2-inch cubes. Place on a large lined sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, melted butter, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste (I add 1/8 teaspoon each). Toss to combine and bake until crisp and firm but not overly browned, about 12-15 minutes, flipping halfway through baking time. Remove from oven and let fully cool. (They will continue to firm up as they cool.) Taste and adjust, adding more salt if desired.
  • DRESSING: Add all the dressing ingredients to a blender jar. Process until smooth. Taste, adjust any flavors to personal preference and season to taste with salt. (I typically add 1/8 teaspoon salt, depending on how salty the cheese is.) If you'd like the dressing slightly thinner, add a touch more lemon juice or olive oil, noting that it will thin out a bit when tossed with lettuce. Place dressing (covered) in the fridge to chill and for flavors to meld and intensify, about 15-20 minutes if time allows.
  • OPTIONAL EXTRAS: If adding chicken, bacon, or eggs, see Note 5.
  • ASSEMBLY: Add washed and dried chopped lettuce to a large bowl. Drizzle on dressing to personal preference (you may not want it all) and use tongs to toss well. Taste and add more dressing if desired. Top with crisp cooled croutons, any of the optional extras, and lots of Parmesan cheese (to taste preference). Serve immediately.
  • STORAGE: This salad doesn’t sit very well with the dressing and croutons mixed into it. If you aren’t planning to eat the entire salad at one sitting, toss and add dressing and croutons only to the lettuce you’ll be eating at this time. Caesar Salad dressing can be made in advance and will stay fresh for 3-6 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Be sure to thoroughly mix the dressing again before using.

Notes

Note 1: Croutons: To make homemade croutons, you'll need 4 cups cubed sourdough or French baguette (artisan-style baguette is our favorite!), 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste.  (This recipe will create more than you'll likely want on the salad, but better to have more than not enough!)
Note 2: Lettuce: Chop, wash, and thoroughly dry the romaine lettuce before tossing with the dressing. If the lettuce is still at all wet from being washed, it will water down the dressing and the salad isn't as pleasant. If time permits, chill the washed (and dried) lettuce and Caesar salad dressing and keep refrigerated until you're ready to assemble.
Note 3: Anchovy paste: Anchovy paste comes in a toothpaste-like tube that you'll find usually in the condiments aisle, canned fish aisle, or next to the tubes of tomato paste at the grocery store. What's in it? Anchovies, salt, and olive oil that have been ground into a thick, greyish paste. Once opened, it does need to be refrigerated. If you omit the anchovy paste, the dressing will lack a depth of flavor and saltiness -- you'll want to add quite a bit of salt to make up for it.
Note 4: If you buy store-bought grated Parmesan, it's going to be a lot denser than freshly grated, so start with 3 tablespoons and add more from there. 
Note 5: Optional additions listed below:
  • Add chicken: either leftover grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken from the store (We like lemon-pepper-seasoned chicken best). Or cook about 3/4th pound chicken breasts. (Pat chicken breast dry with a paper towel or napkin. Cut the chicken in half horizontally to get two equal-sized pieces. Pound if needed to get chicken to even thickness. Drizzle with olive oil -- about 1/2 teaspoon per side per piece of chicken. Sprinkle each side evenly with salt, pepper, and lemon pepper. I add about 1/4 teaspoon per side of each, but add to personal preference. Cook the chicken on a grill or in a pan (in bacon grease or olive oil & butter) for about 3-5 minutes per side over medium high heat or until juices run clear. When the chicken is done, remove and tent it with foil. Let cool 5-10 minutes before very thinly slicing it and adding to the salad.
  • Add bacon: We love thick-sliced bacon added into the salad-- about 3-4 slices. Coarsely chop the bacon then add to a large skillet (don't add oil/butter). Turn to medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper-towel-lined plate. Once cooled, add to salad.
  • Add eggs: Cook eggs to personal preference, then peel and halve them for the salad. To do this, place them in a small pot and cover with water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. As soon as the water is boiling, turn heat down to a gentle simmer. Cook for 3-4 minutes for a soft center, 4-5 for firmer yolks and 6-8 minutes for a hard-boiled egg. Remove the eggs, run under cold water and then submerge in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. After that, peel, cut, and add to salad.
Nutrition information does not include optional add-ins.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 437kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 786mg | Potassium: 78mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 280IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 343mg | Iron: 1mg