Food & Drink

Caesar Salad is a Mexican specialty

The Caesar Salad was actually invented in Mexico.
The Caesar Salad was actually invented in Mexico. jleonard@newsobserver.com

Did you know the Caesar Salad was invented in Tijuana, Mexico? Most people think it’s an Italian salad since it’s served at so many Italian restaurants. Although its creator was of Italian decent, the Mexican people proudly claim it as a specialty there.

Legend has it that Caesar Cardini invented the salad in 1924 over the 4th of July weekend when the crowds were thick at his hotel, and the kitchen was running short on ingredients. Afterall, the tequila still flowed in the Prohibition era south of the border, and the hotel was created to lure Americans. Though Cardini was an Italian immigrant, the actual creation happened on Mexican soil at his hotel where he was chef.

My husband and I returned recently from a week’s worth of sunshine, warmth, incredible food and fun in Cabo San Lucas. We dined on our fair share of Caesar salads during our vacation. Unless you are at a taqueria, you can pretty much count on the Caesar being on the salad offerings. Some restaurants make the dressing tableside mashing anchovies, cracking eggs right into the bowl and mixing the ingredients right before your eyes. Tableside anything adds a fun, entertaining value to about anything – even salad dressing.

This Caesar dressing is good with and without the anchovies. If you don’t have an aversion, go ahead and include them. The anchovies give it that umami, deeper savory flavor. For the dairy free followers, Follow Your Heart makes a pretty good flavored Parmesan alternative. The texture isn’t as hard as real Parmesan Reggiano, but the flavor is pretty close.

This week’s recipes come from a cookbook called “Celebrating the Seasons at Westerbeke Ranch.” My friend Leah told me about this book ten years ago, and it gets used repeatedly. It’s chocked full of incredible, simple, mouth-watering recipes. It’s been in print for a long time, so I would be surprised if you could find it at one of our local bookstores. It’s on Amazon, but be sure to click on “buy used” because $83 is too hefty a price tag even for a great cookbook.

Romaine lettuce is a favorite for its crunchiness, light flavor and versatility. At our house it’s used for Caesar, Asian-inspired salads, chicken lettuce wraps and even as dog treats. Don’t tell my dogs that vegetables aren’t treats.

This Caesar salad can be made as a side dish or made as the entree with the addition of a protein. Top it off with grilled shrimp, roasted chicken or turkey or even a hamburger patty. The dressing recipe makes plenty for leftovers, so plan to eat it again within a few days since it has a raw egg yolk in it. (And don’t serve it to anyone who is pregnant.) It’s delicious.

Reach Adriene Rathbun at socialcookingclasses.com or ar@adrienerathbun.com.

Classic Caesar Salad

2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided use

1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons anchovy paste or minced canned anchovies

1 teapsoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup good olive oil

3 hearts of romaine lettuce, prewashed

Garlic Croutons

Method

Place garlic, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, the Worchestershire sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, egg yolk, anchovy paste, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, about 10 seconds. With the motor running, add oil in a thin stream until its fully incorporated.

Cut the romaine head in half lengthwise, keeping core attached. Slice into 3/4 inch chunks. Discard core. Toss lettuce, remaining 1/2 cup cheese and croutons with enough dressing to coat well. A Caesar is one of the few salads that’s best a little overdressed.

Source: Celebrating the Seasons at Westerbeke Ranch

Easy Garlic Croutons

1/2 pound bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 tablespoons good olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

Method

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle cubes with oil, tossing cubes so the oil is evenly distributed. Add seasonings in the same manner. Spread cubes in a single layer on a baking pan. Bake 8 minutes, then stir croutons to ensure even browning. Bake 8 to 10 minutes more, or until croutons are light brown, very dry and crisp.

Source: Celebrating the Seasons at Westerbeke Ranch

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