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July 29, 2013

All Hail Caesar!

Grilled Caesar Salad with Creamy Dressing
In literature, Julius Caesar is best known for the line he delivers to Brutus when he realizes his confident has betrayed him—"Et tu Brutus?" Of course, by the time he utters the words, it's far too late, for his assassination is underway.

Interestingly enough, more people connect the ill-fated Caesar of literature with the Caesar salad than with the actual creator. And while I think a good Caesar salad is a pretty satisfying affair, I can't imagine ever assassinating anyone over one, even if it had a particularly good dressing.

The Caesar salad was invented by San Diego restauranteur, Caesar Cardini who owned a restaurant south of the border, in Tijuana. Supposedly, Cardini came up with the salad on a busy weekend when he was short on supplies. Not wanting to disappoint the customer, he prepared it table-side, thus turning a few simple ingredients and a salad bowl into a theatrical presentation.

Back in my undergraduate days, I spent a lot of time cursing Cardini. I devoted many years working in fine dining and one thing that was always on the menu was the Caesar salad. I  know I'm over exaggerating here, but it felt like I employed years of my life in dragging around the salad cart and making a big production over Romaine. I guess that's why I like the spin on the classic: grilled Caesar salad.  All I have to do is whip up the dressing; I leave the grilling to Mr. B.





Here’s my recipe:

Cottage cheese, preferably small curd
Anchovy paste (or anchovies)
Dijon Mustard
Parmesan cheese, as good as you can afford
Best Foods Light Mayo with Olive Oil
Garlic
Worcestershire sauce
Lemon Juice
Olive Oil
Fresh Ground Pepper
Tabasco
Sea Salt

Obviously, this recipe doesn’t use eggs. I am not opposed to eggs, but I always have cottage cheese on hand (it’s so versatile), so I don’t bother with the eggs. Plus, when you use eggs, you do need more oil to emulsify the dressing. Also, I don’t provide actual measurements since Caesar dressing is a definite by taste and by number of portions deal.

So…

Put a good sized scoop of cottage cheese into the bowl of a food processor along with the garlic. Process until smooth. Add the anchovy paste and mustard and process. Put a good heaping tablespoon of the Best Foods Mayo with Olive Oil in and process until dressing has a smooth texture and a bit of sheen. Add the rest of the seasonings to taste and about two teaspoons of olive oil per serving (you need the olive oil for texture and also for flavor); process. Stir in a few big handfuls of parmesan cheese and readjust the seasonings for the perfect taste.

As for the Romaine: split a head, wash, and shake dry. Blot excess water off with a paper towel and allow to air dry until all water has evaporated. Lightly spray with olive oil and pass off to your husband, boyfriend, or significant other to grill it up.


1 comment :

  1. I never would have thought to make Caesar dressing with cottage cheese - love it!

    ReplyDelete