Happy Birthday Caesar Salad
Did you know that every July 4th in addition to celebrating our nation’s independence, foodies celebrate National Caesar Salad Day? Yep. While some people think about hot dogs, hamburgers, watermelon and corn, others are hungry for a Caesar salad. Why?
Caesar Salad Makes Its Debut
Most culinary historians credit Caesar Cardini with inventing the salad in Tijuana, Mexico in 1924. Wait a minute, why Mexico? Well Cardini’s restaurant on the border, targeted Americans in California. It’s rumored that supplies were short on that 4th of July, and Cardini improvised with a dramatic tableside salad using ingredients on hand. To say it was a hit is quite an understatement. As a result of that spontaneous recipe, Caesar Salad now appears in the fanciest five star restaurant. In addition, you can order it at your local fast food drive-in. Quite the range.
Dorothy Leibee’s Caesar Salad
Our guest chef, Dorothy, made a wonderful Caesar Salad for her restaurant in Florida, many years ago. A tableside presentation, it provided not only delicious food, but engaging conversation with the customers. Retired now, she gladly makes it for her friends, children, twelve grandchildren and her twenty-five great grandchildren.
Dorothy starts her Caesar Salad with her own freshly made croutons. She simply uses a good loaf of French or Italian bread, home baked or store bought. She cuts the bread in cubes and spreads them on a cookie sheet. Next she sprays the cubes with olive oil spray, and sprinkles with garlic salt. After baking at 325 for 10 minutes, she stirs, sprays again, adds more garlic salt, and cooks for another 10 minutes or so. If I am in the room we are in danger of losing quite a few croutons before the salad is made! Leftovers can be stored in a tightly sealed bag or container (to be munched on throughout the day until they are gone.)
Anchovies in Caesar Salad? The Great Debate
It is said that Cardini’s original salad did not contain actual anchovies, but rather the fermented anchovies used in Worcestershire sauce. Many restaurants through the years, however, insist on mashed anchovies and even several whole anchovies as garnish. Our chef is a firm supporter of the cause! She starts her presentation by pushing garlic and anchovies through a press. She then begins mashing this mixture against the sides of her wooden bowl until no lumps remain. Dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and salt are then added and blended well.
The Egg Controversy
Some people still use raw eggs in their Caesar dressing. We only recommend this if you are very familiar with your source – never with eggs from commercial, battery operated egg farms. For this recipe we partially coddle the egg. Directions for this easy process, as well as exact measurements for this salad, are in Dorothy’s Caesar Salad recipe on our site. And you can read more about safety methods with eggs here if you’d like.
Now that you’ve coddled your egg, separate it and add only the yolk to the anchovy paste, again blending well. Now you pour olive oil over this in a very slow steady stream. Take your time, blending as you go. Add red wine vinegar and blend some more. (A lot of blending going on here. Consider it your arm workout for today; unfortunately it’s only good for one arm!)
Finishing Your Salad
Add Parmesan cheese to dressing. Of course it’s time to blend again. Now add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some freshly ground pepper. Add half of your croutons and your Romaine lettuce. Toss. Add more croutons. Yes indeed. We want more croutons. Toss again. If you want, lay 2 anchovies on top of salad to garnish. Now get ready for happiness all around the table! Happy birthday Caesar Salad. We’re glad you were born!