Caesar Salad can easily be named one of the most known salads of the world that today has admirers in every corner of the world. In this article, we are looking at the salad’s history and giving tips of how to make the classic Caesar salad at home.
The honour for preparing the original Caesar Salad is given to a restaurateur Caesar Cardini, who was an Italian immigrant owning restaurants both in Mexico and the USA. It is often suggested that the world-famous salad was invented almost randomly. Namely, on July 4th 1924, the Independence Day celebrations had left the restaurants almost without supplies, and at one moment Caesar was forced to improvise and prepare food using the few ingredients still available in the kitchen.
Standing right next to his clients and right before their eyes, Caesar prepared a salad that later became known as Cesar Salad. The innovative salad included Romaine lettuce, croutons, Grana Padano D.O.P cheese, slightly boiled eggs, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Once finished, Caesar seasoned the salad with freshly ground pepper.
At this point it is good to know that in the original version Cardini did not use anchovies, to be honest, he never added these to his salad. However, for many chefs, anchovy has become an inseparable element of the salad, and today many salad gourmands could not even imagine Caesar salad without anchovy.
These days there are many versions of Caesar Salad available, and it can be enjoyed both as a starter and a main course. The most common ingredient added to a Caesar Salad today include cherry tomatoes, capers, grilled chicken, salmon or trout fillet, beef, prawns or slices of bacon. It may also happen that Romaine lettuce is replaced with other types of lettuce, and other cheeses (e.g. Romano cheese) are used instead of Grana Padano D.O.P cheese.
Now let’s take a closer look at the ingredients of the classic Caesar Salad and the salad-making process. The inseparable elements of the classic Caesar Salad are:
- Caesar dressing. Chop together anchovy fillets, garlic and a pinch of salt. Use the side of your knife blade and smash the ingredients into paste, then scrape it to a bigger bowl. Whisk in egg yolks and lemon juice (you may also add Worcestershire sauce and mustard). Start adding olive oil drop by drop, whisk until the mix is thick and glossy. Add finely grated Grana Padano D.O.P cheese. Season the dressing with freshly ground pepper, add more lemon juice, if desired.
- Tip! You may also press the garlic into the mix, then the garlicy taste spreads more evenly in the dressing. If possible, choose a quality extra virgin olive oil, which gives the dressing the genuine taste and does not dominate over other ingredients. Should you not have olive oil, you may also use rapeseed oil in the recipe.
- Romaine lettuce. The heart of each Caesar salad is the firm and crisp Romaine lettuce that can carry the weight of the dressing and other ingredients a lot better than many other lettuces. To prepare the salad, tear the leaves into smaller pieces.
- Tip! In the original Caesar Salad, whole leaves of Romaine lettuce were used and the salad was eaten with fingers. The same tip may be used when serving the salad in a bit more modern style. It is also recommended to put Romaine lettuce into the refrigerator at least 1h before starting to prepare the salad. This gives the leaves an especially crispy texture.
- Croutons. In addition to Romaine lettuce and the Caesar dressing, there is the third vital component of the salad – croutons. They add the salad some taste, smell and the crisp texture. In addition to that, some dressing absorbs into croutons, which helps the tastes spread more evenly in the salad. Often plane croutons are used in the salad, but they may also be seasoned with garlic.
- Tip! You get the best result when you make your own croutons. While at it, remember, it is better to pull the bread not to cut it – this makes the texture of the croutons nicer and they “catch” the dressing better. However, it is important to roast the croutons in the oven first, otherwise they may become too doughy too quickly in the salad.
- Grana Padano D.O.P cheese. The one and only cheese to be used when making your Caesar Salad is Grana Padano D.O.P cheese because it has the necessary taste bouquet and saltiness that is excellent to accompany the combination of the Caesar dressing and croutons.
- Tip! To get the best Caesar experience, use fresh and quality Grana Padano D.O.P cheese, add it to the salad by thinly shaving the cheese using a vegetable peeler.
Mixing the salad
Before serving, mix the ingredients in a big bowl. This helps to cover all the ingredients with the dressing and also gives the final touch to the salad. When serving, add some more chips of Grana Padano D.O.P cheese to the salad. If desired, you may also add some cherry tomatoes, chicken fillet, prawns, slices of bacon, etc.
Tip! It is recommended to use a mixing bowl big enough, it is more convenient and the ingredients do not get damaged and get evenly covered with the dressing. It is the best to mix the salad using your hands. To do so, gently mix Romaine lettuce with the Caesar dressing and croutons, add the Grana Padano D.O.P cheese chips at the very end.
Come and taste our delicious Caesar salads in Da Vinci Pasta & Pizza restaurants! In our restaurants you can add your Caesar either grilled chicken, grilled trout or tiger prawns.