Hi everyone! Welcome to Kelly’s Kitchen. Several weeks ago, a reader requested we cover salad dressings from scratch. You know the ones: Ranch, Caesar, Thousand island, Italian…I contemplated doing one big post with all of them, but then I thought I’d break them out a bit because at least one of them is slightly more complex. So that one is the star of the show today. Hello, Caesar!
There are cheats to making your own Caesar dressing; I have used them. Namely, using mayonnaise as a base. This is totally fine. But I will say that when you make the whole thing from scratch, the difference will surprise you. The result is more luscious and doesn’t have that mayonnaise tang.
The ingredients are basic. We have olive oil and vegetable or grapeseed oil, lemon juice, egg yolks, garlic, Dijon, salt, pepper, parmesan and anchovy fillets.
Y’all probably know this by now, but I like everything prepped and ready to go. So do that first. Trust me, it makes all the difference in the world if you just take the time to get it all prepped.
Grate your Parmesan on the fine side of a box grater. Then gently rub the grated cheese between your fingers to create more of a granular texture, rather than stringy. It ends up being more like store bought grated cheese. All set.
Then, chop your one clove of garlic, a pinch of salt and six anchovy fillets together.
Once chopped, use the flat side of a wide chef’s knife to make a paste with the anchovies and garlic. Using your left hand (or right, if you’re a lefty :), apply pressure to the knife side as you drag the flat side of the knife down. Then push the mixture together and repeat pressing, flattening and dragging the knife through the mixture until a smooth paste develops.
I like to use a large bowl with a rubberized bottom whenever I am whisking and pouring at the same time. If you have one, use it, or you can place a damp towel under a glass or plastic bowl.
Then, scrape your anchovy paste into the bowl and whisk in your two egg yolks, two tablespoons lemon juice and ¾ teaspoon Dijon. Whisk until well mixed.
Then, a drop at a time start whisking in the two tablespoons of olive oil. Then in a steady stream, whisk in the ¾ cup of vegetable or grapeseed oil. (I like the grapeseed oil because it feels lighter than vegetable oil.)
Keep whisking until the mixture is thickened and glossy. Finally, whisk in the three tablespoons of finely grated parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice, if you like. Then just set the bowl aside while you make the croutons.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. I am using half a loaf of homemade sourdough, but you can use a country loaf or other crusty bread. If all you have around is sandwich loaf bread, that’s OK! No matter what type of bread you’re using, just be sure to tear your pieces of bread to create a lot of craggy edges to collect the olive oil.
I like to toss my bread chunks with olive oil in a large bowl, then spread them out on a rimmed sheet pan. Then, I season with salt and lemon zest. I had some leftover grated parm so I sprinkled that on too. Because, why the heck not!
Bake the croutons, toss them at least once, for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
I don’t like my salad to be too weighed down with dressing, so I poured about ⅔ of a cup into a separate measuring cup, leaving about ⅓ cup in the mixing bowl. I tossed in my Romaine and poured about ⅓ of the dressing over the top and tossed it with my hands to coat the lettuce.
Then I scooped the dressed lettuce into a serving bowl and set aside. Then I tossed my still warm croutons in the dressing left in the mixing bowl. Go ahead and pour a little more dressing over the croutons and toss to coat the croutons.
Top the dressed lettuce with your dressed croutons and use a Y peeler or wide slice side of a box grater to shave ribbons of parmesan to place on top. Add more fresh cracked pepper, if you like. Hello Caesar!
And that’s it! I had some dressing leftover which I will use as a sandwich spread, probably. Or as a dip for some sourdough focaccia I made this week. Homemade Caesar dressing feels intimidating at first. Maybe it’s the anchovies. Or maybe it’s the egg yolks…? But it really is easy. It’s not like making a hollandaise sauce or anything that involves the eggs scrambling. Or butter and eggs breaking. So don’t be intimidated!
I hope you say Hello, Caesar! and give this recipe a try. It’s a good one to have in your repertoire and it will definitely impress your friends and family when you can tell them it’s homemade Caesar dressing!
Thanks everyone for stopping by today. If you’re interested in another classic salad, try my recipe for Three Bean Salad, or German Potato Salad. Stay tuned, I will cover more from-scratch salad dressings; and with the holidays coming up, let me know if there is anything in particular you’d like to see in this column. Don’t forget you can find me on opens in a new windowInstagram and opens in a new windowFacebook too! Take care everyone, be well. xo Kelly
- 6Anchovy Fillets, oil packed and drained
- 1Garlic Clove
- Kosher Salt
- 2large Egg Yolks
- 2tbspLemon Juice, plus more
- 3/4tspDijon Mustard
- 2tbspOlive Oil
- 1/2cupVegetable or Grapeseed Oil (preferred)
- 3tbspParmesan Cheese, finely grated
- Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- 3cupsTorn Bread Pieces, about 1" x 1"
- 3tbspOlive Oil
- Lemon Zest, optional
- Grated Parmesan, optional
- Kosher Salt
- Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Chop together anchovy fillets, garlic, and pinch of salt. Use the flat side of a knife blade to smash into a paste, then scrape into a large bowl. Whisk in egg yolks, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, and mustard.
Drop by drop to start, gradually whisk in olive oil, then vegetable oil; whisk until dressing is thick and glossy. Whisk in finely grated Parmesan. Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.
Preheat oven to 375°. Tear bread into 1" chunks. Toss bread with olive oil in a bowl. Spread on a baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Bake, tossing occasionally, until golden, 10–15 minutes.
Pour off 2/3 cup of dressing into separate cup, leaving 1/3 cup in the mixing bowl. Add Romaine to bowl and add about 1/3 cup more dressing on top. Toss with your hands to coat the lettuce and transfer to a serving bowl.
In mixing bowl, toss croutons in dressing remaining in bowl, adding more dressing if desired. Toss to coat croutons in dressing. Top salad with croutons and shaved parmesan. Top with cracked black pepper, if desired.