Caesar Salad Dressing

I’m not going to get into the history of how this dressing came into existence--you can read all about it on a bottle of Cardini’s, since Caesar Cardini owns those bragging rights (though I’ve heard it disputed by others who claim the dressing may have other origins--if you know these stories please tell us about them in the comments section). What I do want to say is that a good Caesar salad -- as opposed to a bad one made with a bottled dressing like you get in most chain restaurants -- is one of the most perfect flavor combinations ever invented. Sometimes people just nail a dish--like Reuben Kulakofski, who is one of the men credited with inventing the Reuben Sandwich (it has also been credited to Arnold Reuben, from another time and place--if you know the true origin story, or other "true" versions, please dish it here!); or Rafael Esposito and the Margherita pizza (if he really is the one--that too is in dispute, but one within our PizzaQuest wheelhouse). My point is, regardless of who really invented these iconic foods, there are just some dishes that represent flavor perfection and Caesar salad is one of them. I credit it with being the dish that single-handedly turned me into a foodie when I was about 11 years old.

I get into arguments everywhere about who makes the best Caesar dressing, and I’ve had some good ones over the years, but I’d put the one below one up against any. One of the tricks is to use

oven roasted garlic in place of the fresh, not because the fresh doesn’t work but because it allows you to use more of it. If you prefer your salad with a little garlicky bite, by all means use a clove or four of fresh garlic. Either way, be prepared to eat twice as much of this salad as you think you should.



Caesar Salad Dressing

(Makes about 2 1/2 cups, enough to dress 2 heads of romaine--you will need a big bowl or make just half a batch for a smaller salad)


2 to 4 anchovies, finely minced (or 1 to 2 tablespoons of anchovy paste)

10 cloves oven roasted garlic or up to 4 cloves fresh garlic, or a combination of both

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (any brand), or 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese

1 whole, pasteurized egg, or 2 oz. liquid egg or liquid egg-replacer

(pasteurized eggs are the only way to absolutely assure safety from food born illness, though many of us still use raw, unpasteurized eggs)

Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend till smooth. OR, for table-side service, rub  the inside of the salad bowl with one clove of raw garlic. With a fork or whisk, mix the remaining ingredients in the salad bowl, beginning with the anchovies and garlic, then gradually working in each of the other ingredients as listed, except the egg. Add the lettuce and croutons. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and pour it over the lettuce and toss everything together. Add up to one cup of grated Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese, to taste (this is in addition to the cheese in the dressing), and serve.




#1 dMax 2011-03-05 14:07
More than a cup of dressing for each head of romaine? Isn't that a lot?

We're definitely trying it regardless of quantity. I've been in search of the perfect caesar dressing, bloody mary, salsa and gazpacho for years!
#2 Peter Reinhart 2011-03-06 05:46
Good point! Might be good to make it in a blender or side bowl and just use as much as you need. That's how I do it unless entertaining company, and one batch lasts for a number of servings. I'm also a big fan of next day, wilted Caesar salad with croutons that have sucked up all the dressing and just dissolve in your mouth, so I never worry about making too much. It's just as enjoyable to me in the wilted version as when it's all crisp and new--but I think I'm in the minority on that account, maybe even a little on the eccentric side when it comes to wilted Caesar salad. There's just something about the flavor combination in that dressing that is as compelling as anything I've ever eaten.
#3 dMax 2011-03-06 07:19
I don't disagree about the joys of wilted Caesar except I add any leftover croutons for a little day-after crunchiness. I sometimes think Caesar dressing left in container overnight gets too strong.

We're having your Neo-Nea pizza tonight and if we have romaine I'll add a Caesar on the side.
#4 Peter Reinhart 2011-03-12 16:26
I like that idea of adding fresh croutons--a little crunch, a little soggy wilt--the best of both worlds--thanks dMax! I agree, the dressing does get stronger overnight, which is maybe why I like it so much but none of my friends want to get near to me for the next 24 hours.
#5 Pete 2011-03-14 08:37
Olive oil... is that 1 1/2 cup or 1/2 cup of oil?

1 1/2 seems like a lot of oil for this recipe.
#6 dMax 2011-03-15 07:14
Tried this last night and it was great.

We take some of it, cut with vegetable oil and add some honey to aid browning for use as a marinade for chicken breasts. Our grilled chicken-Caesar gets doulbe duty from the one recipe.
#7 Susan K. 2013-07-20 17:48
Arrggh! I can't find my copy of /Sacramental Magic/ and I want to make your fabulous croutons for my gazpacho...thought I might find the recipe in this post. Though it will no doubt be too late for my purpose, everyone who makes this salad should be able to make your croutons--though I also warn people to make double the amount they want for the salad, since eating them warm right out of the pan is an absolute given.
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