The Caesar Salad of My Dreams

Literally- I've been dreaming of this Caesar. I couldn't wait to get it out of my head and on to a plate. I hope it becomes the salad of your dreams, too!

I live for a dish that I go to bed and wake up thinking about. A dish that tastes, smells, and looks so good that I’ve just gotta have it. In this particular case - one of cruel irony I might add - it was one that I regrettably did not experience: the Caesar alla ZZ at Carbone in New York City.


My husband and I went for my birthday, and while the iconic spicy rigatoni totesss lived up to the hype (catch me in my feelings below), we didn’t order this incredible looking salad that kept strutting on by, enticing us with each passing view. We both woke up the next day still lusting after it.

Here’s a quick visual: JUMBO golden croutons, crisp Romaine, and a mountain of freshly grated cheese. “What were we thinking?” John asked me twice. I told him I blame the spicy rigatoni coma. But now we have a fabulous reason to go back! (not that you need one)


I now know after some research that the Caesar alla ZZ at Carbone evidently includes ricotta salata in some capacity, as well, which honestly makes me want it even more. It’s no wonder why so many diners were ordering it. Until I’m one of them, this here is The Caesar Salad of My Dreams, the one that I woke up that morning needing out of my head, into my notebook, and then brought to life on a Sunday dinner plate. I hope it comes to life now in your kitchen, too!


While this recipe may not be a recreation of the one I’ve yet to try, it is, like so many of my recipes, inspired by the entirety of a culinary experience and created from a food fantasy born through a magical strike to my senses. I know how seeing that dish and being in that restaurant made me feel, and it’s most often in those beautiful, spontaneous moments that inspiration strikes and my creative wheels begin to spin.


This is the very essence of intuitive cooking: ingredients, flavors, dishes, and concepts call you to create them until you go to your kitchen and bring them to life from the heart and soul.


If you find yourself being called to this delicious salad too, be sure to share and tag @threebirdsonestove so I can see how you’re enjoying it!

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 30 Minutes

Yield: About 4 Servings


Ingredients

3 hearts Romaine lettuce, washed and dry, then chopped or torn by hand into medium-large pieces


Dressing:

4 oil-packed anchovy filets, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg yolk

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/3 cup neutral oil (avocado, grapeseed, vegetable, canola)

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan


Croutons:

1 loaf sourdough or French bread, cut into 3 x 2-inch cubes (4 per salad)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnishing

Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper for serving


Directions

For the Dressing:

  1. Create a paste of the anchovies, garlic, salt, and pepper by mashing and chopping on a cutting board or using a mortar and pestle. Place aside.

  2. Add egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard to a food processor and blend to combine. Scrape the sides before next step.

  3. Turn food processor back on and very gradually add the oil. Pause to scrape the sides a couple of times throughout. Continue adding in a steady stream until mixture begins to thicken. If necessary, add a few drops of water at a time to reach desired consistency.

  4. Once smooth, thick, and ivory colored, add anchovy paste and Parmesan and continue to blend until smooth. Taste test, adding salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately or make ahead of time (the flavors become even more delicious if it sits for a bit covered in the fridge). Store in an airtight container or mason jar.

For the Croutons:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl until bread cubes are coated. Place in a single layer on a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Bake 30 minutes, flipping croutons halfway through for even toasting. Cool for at least 15 minutes before topping salad to avoid wilting.

Plating & Serving:

  1. In a large bowl, use tongs to toss the Romaine in as much dressing as desired. Best to start with less and add more as you go. In a wide set pasta bowl or hollow dish, create a generous base of the coated Romaine. Top with cooled croutons, followed by a very generous shaving of Parmesan. Sprinkle with some flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper (if desired). Serve at room temperature with any leftover dressing on the side.







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