Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hail Caesar!

About sixteen years ago, I discovered Caesar salad. It’s been my one true salad love ever since and the hardest part of this long-term salad relationship has been finding a good one. Not all Caesars are created equal, you know. I’ve found a few places here and there that make a decent one. I’ve also been disappointed a lot. The reigning king of Caesar for many, many years has been McAlister’s Deli but this post officially marks the end of that era. McAlister’s will have to settle for second place from here on out because Aunt D has perfected the art of homemade Caesar dressing.

Here’s what you’ll need to start your own love affair:

4 cloves of garlic
4 tbsp of red wine vinegar
1 cup of mayonnaise
2 ounce container of anchovy fillets
2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp of lemon juice
½ cup of grated asiago
¼ cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Before you freak out about the anchovies, let me just say that they are absolutely necessary. If you’re thinking that it just sounds gross, you’re right. It sounds completely gross and my initial reaction was to leave them out. I decided to be brave, though, and left the anchovies in. It was definitely the right call. I learned that anchovies are what make Caesar dressing taste like Caesar dressing. If you’re still nervous about it, then start with less than the recipe calls for and work your way up. You won’t be sorry.

Puree everything except the oil, salt and vinegar in a blender. Add the oil slowly without stopping the blender. When everything is nice and creamy, add your salt and pepper to taste. Voila! Caesar dressing.

For the grilled chicken version, I use boneless skinless breasts and cut them in half sideways so that they are very thin. Season them with McCormick’s Grill Mates Chicken Seasoning and cook them on the George Foreman grill.

Use Romaine lettuce and tear it into small pieces. Put the lettuce into a large bowl with a lid. Add the dressing then close the lid and shake until the lettuce is completely covered. Put the lettuce on a plate and top with the warm chicken. Grate fresh asiago over the top and add croutons.

The croutons you see here are homemade. I used bread that I made, cut it into cubes and toasted it in the oven. The bread had seasoning baked into it, so it didn’t really need anything else. When I make croutons from plain white bread, I toss the cubes with melted butter and Italian seasoning before toasting. Spread your bread cubes evenly across a cookie sheet and toast at 300 degrees until they are crispy.

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