Caesar Salad with Garlicky Croutons

This is how much my older son Jack loves salad: when he was in nursery school, they took a poll in his class to see what everyone’s favorite food was, and charted the results. Amongst all the ballots cast for pizza, chicken nuggets, ice cream and so on, there was little Jack’s lone vote: salad. Kind of dorky, but adorable.

And while he can put away platefuls of salad with a simple vinaigrette a Caesar salad is what really gets his blood pumping.

This is the perfect Caesar salad recipe: cheesy, crunchy, creamy, just like the one you would order in a restaurant, but so easy to make.

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Caesar Salad with Garlicky Croutons

Anchovies in Caesar Salad

It’s hard to talk about a Caesar salad without embarking upon a conversation about anchovies. Some people hate them, but what’s more relevant is that many people THINK they hate them. Sure, sucking down an entire tiny and slightly hairy fish is an acquired taste for most, but when an anchovy is very finely chopped and becomes part of a sauce or a dressing all it’s doing at that point is adding a slightly salty, slightly briny note, a richness of sorts, a depth, and no one would know it was there until you leaned over and said, “Hey, how about those anchovies? Delicious, right?”, at which point they would decide they no longer liked what they were eating.

Having said that, if you are at all worried that the mere presence of an anchovy in your kitchen might ruin everything, just leave it out in this recipe.

Caesar Salad with Garlicky Croutons

A Genius Raw Egg Substitution

The other hot button is raw eggs, which are not an issue in this Caesar salad recipe, which takes its lead from an ingenious Caesar dressing created by Brooklyn restaurateur Frank Falcinelli which relies on mayonnaise, which have cooked eggs built right in. Brilliant.

You can top this Caesar salad with some sliced chicken, or a piece of salmon or tuna, or some poached or grilled shrimp for a restaurant-ey entrée.

Caesar Salad with Garlicky Croutons

Serve Caesar Salad with:

One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

Cheesy Beef and Hash Brown Casserole

Simple Herbed Grilled Chicken

Mustard and Maple Pork Kebabs

Caesar Salad with Garlicky Croutons

This is the perfect Caesar salad recipe: cheesy, crunchy, creamy, just like the one you would order in a restaurant, but so easy to make.
Yield: 6 People
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the Croutons (Optional)

  • 2 cups day-old cubes of firm white bread about ¾-inch
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove pressed through a garlic press, or very, very finely minced into a paste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher or coarse salt

For the Caesar Dressing

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice depending on how lemony you like it
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 anchovy rinsed and very finely minced or ½ teaspoon anchovy paste, plus optional additional whole anchovies for topping individual portions
  • 1 garlic clove pressed through a garlic press, or very, very finely minced into a paste
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 garlic clove pressed through a garlic press, or very, very finely minced into a paste (see Note)
  • 1 tablespoon water

For the Salad

  • 4 hearts of romaine lettuce or 2 full heads, rinsed and dried
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  • Make the croutons, if using: preheat the oven to 350°F.   Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet with sides. Mix together the olive oil, garlic and salt in a small bowl, then drizzle over the bread cubes, and toss to coat the bread. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the bread is golden and toasted.
  • Make the Dressing: In a blender or food processor add the mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies (if using), salt, pepper, garlic, and water and process until blended (or just shake everything up in a tightly sealed jar).
  • Make the Caesar Salad: Tear or thinly slice the romaine hearts and place in a large serving bowl (you should have about 8 cups). Drizzle over about 2/3 of the dressing and toss to combine. Sprinkle over the cheese and toss again until everything is evenly mixed. Add more dressing as needed, but don’t drown it. Leftover dressing may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Top the salad with croutons, if using, before serving.

Notes

Vegetarian Note

Leave out the Worcestershire sauce (it is made with anchovies), and skip the optional anchovies.

What Can the Kids Do?

If you’re making the croutons, they can toss the bread with the garlicky olive oil. They can add all of the ingredients for the dressing to the blender or jar, and they can shake if you’re mixing this by hand. They can tear lettuce, and even cut it depending on their knife skills.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 213.05kcal | Carbohydrates: 10.77g | Protein: 5.72g | Fat: 16.85g | Saturated Fat: 3.48g | Cholesterol: 7.78mg | Sodium: 521.88mg | Potassium: 213.74mg | Fiber: 1.99g | Sugar: 1.85g | Vitamin A: 6633.62IU | Vitamin C: 4.29mg | Calcium: 156.28mg | Iron: 1.39mg

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