I'm not a picky eater, but I do like to think I set a high standard for the food I'm willing to eat. When it comes to Caesar salad, it's hard for me to find a decent store bought brand. The issue is it never really tastes like what you get at a restaurant (I'm talking real Italian type). Store bought bottles are usually heavy on the creamy factor and cheese, and taste almost like a ranch dressing with some black pepper thrown in. I just can't get behind that.
Surprisingly, I've never tried to make my own Caesar dressing.
I know, for someone with such high standards you'd think that would be the first thing I did, right? Maybe I should have, but I guess I just treated Caesar salads like, well, a treat. Only to be consumed at restaurants where the dressing passed my test.
There's a whole slew of dressing recipes floating around, but most of them I found don't have egg. I felt like if I was going to try this, I had to do it right. Right includes raw egg. As someone who routinely eats a few cookies' worth of cookie dough while baking, this wasn't really an issue for me.
Bonus points went to this recipe for being easy (I mean, how hard can salad dressing be?), and a few extra for it being tasty. I have a feeling my salad consumption is about to go through the roof.
Sidenote: don't be intimidated by the long list below! I just divided it to make it easier to read. You really can do all of this at once, and start to finish I think it took me about 10 minutes tops.
Caesar Salad with Polenta Croutons and Toasted Parmesan Crisps (serves 6)
For the Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 large clove garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup grated parmesan
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 egg yolk
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Dressing may separate if it sits too long, and if this happens just give it a quick stir.
For the Croutons
4" polenta, cubed
1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup flour or corn starch
Toss polenta cubes in flour/corn starch to lightly coat. Heat oil in a large skillet and fry polenta cubes for a few minutes on each side, until they're golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.
For the Parmesan Crisps
1 cup shredded parmesan
Preheat oven to 425*. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you have a silpat mat that's even better! Arrange parmesan into six equal piles on sheet and shape each into a flat circle, about 3" in diameter. Bake for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Allow these to cool slightly before removing (very carefully) with a spatula from the tray.
To prepare the salad
Wash about a cup of lettuce per person. Romaine is traditional, but I used mixed greens for more nutritional value. Put lettuce in whatever bowl you're serving in, and drizzle dressing over top. It might be good to add a little at a time until you have enough (you may not use the entire batch). Add croutons and toss lightly with salad tongs. Sprinkle shredded parmesan on top, and when you serve the salad place a parmesan crisp on top of each.
Thanks to Meagan for starting Recipe Madness! I've had a lot of fun participating (although I came up a few recipes short of 31), and finding new recipes to find!