Saturday, July 28, 2007

Presenting Caesar Salad

The origin of the Caesar Salad is obscure however the generally accepted version is that its first presentation in the 1920s was by an Italian expatriate, born Cesare Cardini. Cardini and his brother Alessandro moved to San Diego from Milan after World War I opening a restaurant across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, ostensibly to woo Americans frustrated by Prohibition.

The only online portrait of Caesar Cardini, who is credited as creator of the Caesar Salad Caesar's Café or Caesar's Place on the ground floor of the Hotel Comercial at the corner of 2nd Street and Revolution Blvd, exits today though it was relocated in 1929 to Hotel Caesar's a few blocks away near the corner of 5th Street.

This classic salad can be a meal in itself and it is deliciously easy to make. Cardini’s waiters would prepare the Caesar at the table to the delight and presumably admiration of their guests.

Today, Caesar Salad typically includes anchovy; Cardini’s original masterpiece did not so we’ve left it out for the purists.

As for the raw egg, well it would be foolish to recommend raw eggs in today’s mystery world of imports and factory production methods; you’ll have to be your own judge. Some Caesar swanks suggest a coddled egg (in boiling water 30-45 seconds).

A safe solution and vegetarian is to use silken tofu, which emulsifies very nicely with the rest of Cardini’s impossibly simple, magnificent list of…

Ingredients: Classic

  • 1/2 cup day-old bread, cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup virgin olive oil (more probably garlic oil prepared by placing 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and quartered, in a good quality (e.g. Extra Virgin) olive oil and letting it stand at room temperature several hours or even up to 5 days
  • 2 medium heads of romaine lettuce -- outer leaves removed
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese -- grated

Ingredients: Neo classic

  • 1/4 cup silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (suggestion: use this vegan, contains no anchovy)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 medium garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium heads of romaine lettuce -- outer leaves removed
  • 1/3 cup vegetarian Parmesan cheese -- grated


Combine the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper, mustard and capers in a bowl. Crack egg and add to the mix ingredients. Whisk until smooth.

Slowly drizzle the oil in a steady stream as you whisk, again until smooth. If you add the oil too quickly or all at once, the dressing will separate out and not emulsify.

To serve:

Tear the romaine into pieces roughly 1-2 inch pieces (the original Caesar chefs used whole roamaine leaves, which were then coated with the dressing) adding them to a large bowl. Apply half the dressing, toss briefly and with a little flair please, after all this is a Caesar you’re presenting not a side salad. Add remaining dressing, Parmesan cheese, croutons and toss once again.

Serve on chilled plates.


jabbett said...

For the curious, here is Julia Child's research on the Caesar Salad, derived from an interview with Cardini's daughter. Includes original recipe.

Rick said...

We too found this "curious"
remenicense from Julia's childhood during our research for Presenting Caesar Salad and now, thanks to Jabbett's reminder. pass it along, anchovies not withstanding. Thanks J