August 5, 2011

Caesar Salad with Homemade Dressing

I managed to acquire one ginormous head of romaine lettuce.

This lettuce was on steroids, for sure.

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of those outer leaves.

Really, they haven't done anything to me, they're just too tough and bitter for my liking.

I love love love the inside bits. The heart to be exact. I guess you could call me a romantic.

Usually, I only buy romaine hearts, but in my food box came this monster lettuce.

Tragically, I ended up composting the outer layers.

It just felt wrong tossing away all that good lettuce.

I felt like a waster. An ungrateful lettuce waster. True story.

Yesterday, I also cleaned out my fridge. I should have saved it for another day, it was too much wasting for my soul.

There were rotten zucchinis, and weird green things, and stuff in tubs, and soup in bowls, and bread in bags.

It all had to go.

After tossing out almost the entire contents of my fridge, I decided to make the most of the day and eat me some green hearts, as in caesar salad hearts.

In my books, caesar salad must meet the following criteria:

the dressing needs to be oily not creamy,

just enough garlic to taste heavenly, while still allowing me to come in close contact with loved ones,

anchovies, don't even think about it,

eggs, back off,

shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, what are you waiting for?

There are many keys to a good caesar dressing. It's like a crazy locked door just waiting to be opened.

The first key is roasted garlic.

The roasting process brings out the sweet caramel flavors, while minimizing that garlic {bite}, otherwise known as the {please don't kiss me right now} bite.

The second key is olive oil. Good olive oil. Fancy olive oil.

I don't mean you need to press them olives yourself. I just mean splurge on the fancy stuff.

There are also some smaller keys; capers, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.

Put it all together. Emulsify it up - meaning  - combine the two liquids which normally don't mix easily.


Now we've got the dressing.

Now we need some romaine hearts, and some good Parmigiano Reggiano {it's a must}. Don't skimp and get the cheap stuff. With so few ingredients, that sweet, creamy flavor of the cheese is most important.

Wash off your leaves. Dry them up. Slice them with a knife into bite size pieces.

On a plate, arrange the lettuce into a small hill-like formation.

Just before serving your salad, drizzle it with dressing and top with shaved cheese.

So good. So very very good.

You'll impress the pants off anybody with this salad.

I don't mean literally. Get your mind out of the gutter.

[Print Recipe]

{adapted from the Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook}

2 small {1 large} garlic bulb, roasted
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp caper juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 pinches of salt
dash of pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
3 - 4 romaine hearts
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, thinly shaved {with a cheese grater or vegetable peeler}


1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

2. Slice off the tops of the garlic. Place on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic in tin foil and bake for 40 minutes. When done, the garlic should be light brown in color and popping up out of their outer skin. To remove the garlic, squeeze it out {like a tube of tooth paste} from the bottom.

3. In a food processor, blend the roasted garlic, capers, caper juice, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of olive oil.

4. Wash the romaine hearts and cut into bite size pieces. Plate the lettuce, and just before serving, drizzle with dressing and top with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.


  1. Oh my goodness, the flavours of that dressing look all the best dressing ingredients came together to make the mother of all dressings. Love that you serve it simply with romaine.

    Btw you could try sauteeing the outer leaves with a little garlic if you don't wanna waste 'em. Sizzle garlic in some butter and oil, then throw in chopped leaves and stir around until just wilted. I thought this was ridiculous until my Mum served it up to me on one of my visits home.

  2. I agree with you on the anchovies. No thanks!
    This looks amazing! I do love a good salad caesar. :)

  3. This sounds just like the salad that Nick's mom makes every year at Christmas. It's AMAZING!

  4. Zo - That is such an awesome idea. I will definitely be grillin up some lettuce soon.