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Food
California Caesar Salad

There are many variations on this classic, but the real secret to making it is simple: Use only the inner heart of the romaine lettuce, not the dark outer leaves, and make sure the lettuce is icy-cold when you toss it with the dressing. The pale green leaves are crisp and tender and taste best with the strong dressing. Blot the anchovies of their oil before mashing and measuring; do not use anchovy paste. Try to use sourdough bread for an authentic note to the croutons. The raw egg is essential for the velvety dressing and to give a lustrous coating to the greens, but to alleviate concerns about bacteria, pasteurized egg may be used.

  • 2 small heads romaine lettuce, outer green leaves removed and reserved for another use
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons mashed anchovies
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg yolk (pasteurized, if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Kosher salt, if necessary
  • 2 slices lightly toasted sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch croutons (about 1 cup)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Piece of Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese for grating or shaving at the table

Tear or cut the romaine leaves into 1-inch pieces. Wash in ice-cold water, drain and pat dry or spin dry. Wrap in a kitchen towel and refrigerate until chilled.

Combine the garlic, mashed anchovies and lemon juice in a large bowl and whisk until blended. Whisk in egg yolk. Gradually whisk in the olive oil and grated cheese. Season with a little salt if necessary.

Add the lettuce and croutons, season with pepper and additional lemon juice if necessary and toss until the lettuce is well-coated. Serve on salad plates or in bowls topped with grated or shaved cheese to taste. Serves 4.

"An American Place" by Larry Forgione

Thursday, August 01, 2002

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