taste: caesaresque

The season for Caesar!

Yes yes. Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s – namely, anchovies, Romaine lettuce, parmesan and croutons. This is only ‘Caesaresque’ because there’s no egg in the dressing, but it’s a strong, hearty, garlicky way of getting your salady rocks off. And there’s none of that cloying creaminess that cheap restaurant Caesars come bathed in. It’s adapted (of course) from a Gourmet recipe on Epicurious, and will serve 4 as a main.

First, make your croutons. Melt 2tbsp butter with 2tbsp olive oil and three garlic cloves, roughly chopped over a low heat. Once the butter has melted, turn off the heat and let the garlic flavor infuse for 10 minutes or so.

Chop 1/3 baguette, or a similar amount of any chunky bread you prefer, into crouton-sized cubes.

Wash and chop one large Romaine lettuce and dry well. Leave to one side.

Coat the bread cubes in the butter/oil/garlic mixture and spread them on a baking sheet. Take out the garlic pieces first if you like, but they were pretty delicious baked in butter. Bake in a medium oven (350°C) for 10-12 minutes until golden and crunchy.

Butter, oil, and bread. For the salad.

While the croutons are baking, make the dressing. Mash together two anchovies and two cloves of garlic in a pestle and mortar (this would have been much easier if I had crushed the garlic first. I ended up picking garlic chunks out of the dressing. I used tinned anchovies that were rolled up around capers, as if there wasn’t enough of a kick already…

This salad lets you know it's arrived.

Transfer your anchovy-garlic paste into a larger bowl (efficient cooks will use the salad bowl they’re going to serve in. I only thought of this once it was too late.) Add 2tsp red wine vinegar; 2tsp fresh lemon juice; 1tsp Worcestershire sauce; 1 tsp Dijon mustard and whisk together. Still whisking, pour in 1/3 cup olive oil (you can use your judgement and tastebuds on the exact quantity.)

Add the lettuce and toss well to coat in the dressing. Add the croutons hot from the oven, the rest of the anchovies from the tin, and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Dig in, and think of Rome. (OK, I know Caesar salad has nothing to do with that Caesar, but a very different man named Caesar.)

Not for the garlic faint-of-heart...

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