M Cooks: Skip the debate over its origins and just enjoy a Caesar salad.
Spring means it's time for a wonderful Caesar salad
There have been countless arguments over where and how this famous salad originated, whether it should contain anchovies or not and whether we can all thank Wallis Simpson for its export to the rest of the world from wherever it came from. None of that really interests me, but if you want to do some research, then go ahead.
What interests me is the fact that this is a sublime salad that is easy to make and always a hit. I have it on most of my menus, from my Frankie's restaurants to the Swan Inn in England to my steakhouses around the world, including the one here in Abu Dhabi.
I also make this at home, because it is one of the few salads children will actually eat. Partly because it doesn't really look like a salad, and there are no really green, willowy bits to be put off by. What is it with children and green things? They seem to be born with an aversion to anything green and healthy at all. Have you ever met a kid who eats spinach? I might go easy on the garlic and the anchovies if I am making it for the kids, but that's about it.
Anchovies are an odd one, aren't they? Seems people either love them or hate them. I have a friend who can't eat anything an anchovy has been anywhere near, as she can still taste it. Another one of those princess types I seem to attract.
Talking of attraction, you may have noted the enormous amount of garlic in this recipe. This is not a salad to eat at lunch before a first date. Or even a second date. Save it for a day when you are seeing only people who know you don't normally smell like a garlic-addicted Frenchman. But if you can help it, don't skimp on the garlic. The flavour relies on it. And if you are dining with an anchovy-averse princess (or prince), then pop one on your own salad once you have served it.
Now that spring is well and truly here, I can think of no nicer lunch than this salad. It has everything you need: I love the combination of the garlic, the Parmesan, the crisp lettuce and the dressing. I hope you feel the same.
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Make it Yourself
3 medium heads romaine lettuce, washed and trimmed
Caesar dressing, see below
50g Parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
24pc Parmesan shavings
24 roasted garlic cloves
18 caper berries
Croutons to taste
1. Cut the romaine into salad-size pieces and place in a large bowl.
2. Toss the lettuce with the dressing and grated Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
3. Divide the salad into six bowls and garnish with the Parmesan shavings, roasted garlic cloves, caper berries and croutons.
For the dressing
6 roasted garlic cloves
2 anchovy filets
25g capers, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp Dijon
4 egg yolks
50ml white grape vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
400ml vegetable oil
50g Parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a food processor blend the garlic, anchovy filets, capers, Dijon and egg yolks into a smooth paste. While continuing to blend, add the vinegar, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.
2. With the food processor running at a moderate speed, slowly add the vegetable oil to the mixture, which will thicken and emulsify into a dressing. If the dressing becomes too thick you can adjust the consistency with a little warm water.
3. Add the grated Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.