Can you guess where the Caesar salad originated?
According to legend, it can be traced back to Tijuana, Mexico in 1924 by an Italian American immigrant named Caesar Cardini. Get this. The salad was prepared table-side in a giant wooden bowl (swoon).
Cardini aimed to create a light and refreshing experience, so they hand rolled each romaine leaf into the dressing, serving it whole, to be eaten by hand. Who doesn’t secretly love eating with their hands?
Now, perhaps you’ve never made Caesar dressing before. It’s so ubiquitous – I know. But here’s the thing: you will forever be at a loss as to why the Caesar is truly magnificent if you assume the commercialized dressings are as good as it gets.
Star Ingredient: Caesar dressing
Flavor Affinities: ANCHOVY + MANCHEGO + MARCONA ALMONDS
Tastes: salty, tangy, savory (nutty)
Method: emulsion, plus authentic whole leaf roll technique
Wisdom: Anchovy packs a strong punch that demands ice cold crisp romaine to offset the intensity.
How to make the smoky caesar dressing
This remarkably simple variation includes anchovies, arguably the most important ingredient – plus lime juice, manchego cheese, Spanish (Marcona) almonds, and a touch of smoky paprika. The dressing blends up quickly in a food processor.
Just be prepared to add the olive oil last. You want the blades turning as you steadily pour. Be sure to pour very slowly for the best creamy texture.
Tip: If you really detest anchovies, you could use Worcestershire sauce. This is actually a traditional component of Caesar salad dressing.
If you’re expecting a mild Caesar dressing, this is so not it. With such a deeply flavorful dressing, a light coating goes a long way. Oh – and definitely tell me if you decide to eat this with your hands.
In case you want something else smoky, here’s one of my favorite salads – smoked salmon salad with lemon dill dressing.
Smoky Caesar Salad
- 1 head romaine
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 fillets anchovies
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice, from 1 lime
- 3/4 tsp salt
- black pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil, extra virgin
- 1/4 cup manchego cheese plus extra for serving
- 1/2 cup croutons, optional
- 1/4 cup marcona almonds (roasted), optional
- Submerge the romaine to remove any sand. Lift the lettuce and refrigerate for at least 1 hour so it's nice and crisp.
- Place the garlic, anchovies, egg yolk, paprika, lime juice, salt, and a sprinkle of black pepper in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Turn it on low and slowly pour a steady stream of olive oil. Blend until smooth.
- Pour the dressing into a large bowl and grate 1/4 cup of manchego cheese into the dressing. Gently roll the indivual romaine leaves into the dressing to lightly coat.
- Arrange the leaves on a platter and lavish with extra manchego, chopped marcona almonds, or croutons.
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