Winter is the time for lemons. That makes me very happy, because that is the time that I crave them most. I don’t know if it’s because I need the vitamin C, or if the lack of sunlight makes me appreciate the lemon’s visibly sunny character, or if it’s just that after a few months of heavy food, my palate is craving a vacation.
I have a lot of recipes for things with lemon, but in terms of making dinner, Caesar Salad ticks all the boxes:
1. My kids love it despite their reluctance about eggs. Win win win.
2. The Author loves it. Big win, from the one who hates a meal that seems to be only vegetables.
3. It’s a meal in itself. Packed with protein from the egg, cheese and anchovies, showered with nutrients from the lemon and the now highly regarded romaine lettuce, and bulked up with a little bit of bread to keep you from being hungry an hour later, this is a perfect dinner for a busy weekday.
4. You probably already have all the ingredients in the house.
5. A homemade Caesar salad is freaking delicious. Says me.
Serves 5 or 6 as a main course
Once upon a time, I used to wait tables at a very popular restaurant in Vermont. On one particular night, the place was heaving, and it was just the bartender and me trying to handle 18 or so tables filled with people who had all streamed in at the same time from the cinema across the street. I was running back and forth, delivering drinks, delivering food, taking orders, clearing tables, getting silverware and napkins, adding up bills. I hope I am making it clear that we were swamped, totally in the weeds.
At one point, after I had dropped off a few plates of food at one of the tables, a customer motioned to me that there was a problem. I rushed back over, and she looked at me and then at her Caesar Salad and said to me, “I asked for no anchovies.” Now, I knew that the kitchen did not put anchovies in the salad dressing, just on top of the salad itself. And I’m nothing if not practical. So, using my fingers, I picked the anchovies off her salad and plonked them in the ashtray and walked away.
How I didn’t get fired is anyone’s guess.
The point is, if you’re not a fan of anchovies, it doesn’t matter too much. In fact, the original Caesar Salad didn’t contain whole anchovies but instead had Worcestershire sauce adding the slight fishy note. So if you go that route, you’ll be more authentic!
You can use just one bowl to make this salad, which means that the washing up is as simple as the prep. Dinner doesn’t get any better than that.
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 TB Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 TB lemon juice
- 2 TB sherry vinegar
- cracked pepper
- 6 anchovies, minced
- 4 egg yolks*
- 2 heads romaine, chopped or torn into pieces
- 2-3 C. croutons
- 75g (½ C.) parmesan, grated
Purée the garlic clove and add to a bowl that is big enough to hold all the ingredients. For an easy way to purée garlic, see here.
Add the mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and minced anchovies to the garlic and whisk until the oil has emulsified. Then whisk in the egg yolks.
Next load the lettuce into the bowl. (You can keep the leaves whole, which is apparently what Caesar Cardini did, or you can tear them into bite-sized pieces, which is what I like to do, so that each piece is evenly coated with the dressing and is easy to eat.) Toss the lettuce with the dressing until all the pieces are dressed, then add the croutons and toss well.
Finally, add the parmesan cheese. Serve with freshly cracked pepper on the side for everyone to add according to their tastes.
* If you are worried about using raw egg in this, you can coddle the yolks with the vinegar and then add them. It will make the dressing thicker, which you may like!