A month or so ago, I wrote on the Pomegranate Days Facebook Fan Page that we were about to enjoy a slow roasted chicken along with a classic Caesar Salad for our Sunday lunch. It was the first time in years that I had made a Caesar salad, spurned as it was by some beautiful cos lettuce I had just bought, but it started what has basically been the Caesar Salad Winter of 2014. I am in love with this simple classic all over again.
Two things need to happen to create the glory that is the Caesar Salad. Firstly, you must master the dressing. Secondly, you must master the perfectly soft boiled egg. Now, I am not sure which of these will prove the most challenging for you, but should either go awry you will sob into your tea towel. Okay, so you probably won’t sob – we are only talking about salad – but you might (read will) be greatly disappointed and that would be a deep injustice to the memory of its creator Cesare Cardini.
For the best possible result for the dressing, use a blender that produces a fine and smooth blend on a dressing. I am able to get a smooth emulsified dressing with my hand blender. The egg yolks add richness; the anchovies add brine, which is offset by the vinegar and lemon juice. All of these ingredients are tweaked by Worcestershire sauce and good seasoning.
As for the soft boiled eggs, there are so many methods but here is my Sam-Proof version. Once you have brought a salted pot of water to the boil, gently drop the eggs into the rapidly boiling water using a slotted spoon. Set the timer for seven (7) minutes. When the timer goes ping, remove the eggs from the water and stand under cold running water for two minutes. Leave the eggs to cool. Peel and slice in half. Voila, perfect soft boiled eggs.
My final word on this Caesar Salad – I certainly am very opinionated about salad this morning – is regarding the actual dressing of the salad.
My chef training has taught me that a salad served without dressing is basically an unfinished salad. Especially in a salad such as this you want the dressing to run between the creases and folds of all the ingredients to really deliver the full flavour to each mouthful. I am prone, out of habit to toss the dressing into a salad before serving.
However, my training as a mom has taught me that it’s not only children who prefer to go cautiously into new flavours and that sometimes it is best to serve dressings on the side. The choice, despite what salad etiquette and tradition may say, rests with you.
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 clove garlic
- 30 ml (2 T) lemon juice
- 5 ml (1 t) Dijon mustard
- 4 anchovy fillets, rinsed
- 160 ml (⅔ C) sunflower oil
- 65 ml (¼ C) olive oil
- 45 – 65 ml (3-4 T) water
- pinch salt
- 15 ml (1 T) Worcestershire Sauce
- 45 ml (3 T) olive oil
- 45 ml (3 T) butter
- 16 slices fresh baguette
- 2 cos lettuce, washed and dried
- 4 soft – boiled eggs, halved
- 6 anchovy fillets, drained and rinsed
- shavings of parmesan cheese
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To make the dressing, place the egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice, mustard and anchovies into a food processor and whiz together until smooth and pale.
- With the processor running, gradually add the oils to make a smooth and creamy emulsion. Add enough of the water to create the desired consistency.
- Add the salt and the Worcestershire sauce and adjust the seasoning to taste.
- Heat the olive oil and the butter in a small frying pan. Fry the baguette slices in batches on both sides until they are golden and crispy. Set aside.
- Place the lettuce leaves in a bowl. Add the eggs, anchovies and parmesan cheese. Season with the salt and pepper.
- Add enough of the dressing to give the ingredients a light coat when gently tossed.
- Arrange the salad on a platter and finish with the baguette croutons.
- Serve immediately.