I had also never made croutons from scratch, another fundamental element of the classic Caesar salad. And can I tell you, they are incredible! Since normally I would pick around the bland, rock-hard cubes, I was tempted to skip them entirely… but these were nothing like that. Believe me when I say they shone as the highlight of the dish – fragrant, crispy little nuggets of garlic bread heaven. It was a force of will not to eat them all straight from the oven.
Topped with juicy, perfectly grilled chicken breast, and a few shavings of parmesan cheese, this was without a doubt one of the best Caesar salads I’ve eaten. Freshly tossed, or served up in a wrap for a quick and tasty lunch, you simply cannot go wrong.
- 4 cups crusty French or Italian bread, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2-3 TBSP olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- 1 large raw or coddled egg yolk*
- 1½ TBSP lemon juice
- 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. anchovy paste (or 1 anchovy fillet)**
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed (I suggest starting with one, then adding another if you feel it needs it)
- ½ tsp. mustard powder**
- ½ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup good parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 2-3 TBSP water, as needed
- salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
- 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 hearts of romaine, washed, thoroughly dried, and chopped
- freshly grated or shaved parmesan cheese, to taste
- Dressing and croutons, to taste
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Cube bread and place in a large bowl. Crush the garlic with the flat side of a knife, and chop it roughly. Add a pinch of salt, and smash the garlic back and forth, smearing it with the flat side of the blade against the cutting board to make a paste. Add the paste to the bread, and toss with olive oil until lightly but evenly coated. Add a bit more salt, and toss to combine.
- Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5-8 minutes, until golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- (Once completely cool, croutons can be stored in an airtight container or baggie at room temperature for up to a few days.)
- In the bowl of your food processor, combine all the ingredients except the olive oil, parmesan cheese, water, and salt and pepper. Blend to combine.
- While blending, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add the parmesan cheese, and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and thin with water to desired consistency. (You can also make other adjustments here, according to your tastes -- if you'd like a little more lemon or vinegar, a bit more mustard or anchovy, etc., add it now and pulse to combine.)
- Transfer to an airtight container or jar, and store in the fridge until you're ready to use. Dressing is best made an hour or two in advance to let the flavors come together, and can be stored in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
- Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Brush grill with oil (or lightly oil a pan) and grill (or sear) for 3-4 minutes per side, or until the meat is cooked through. According to the FDA, the meat should register 165 degrees F. at it's thickest point on a meat thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, you can slice into the thickest part and the juices should run clear. The meat should be white/opaque all the way through. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
- Wash, dry, and chop romaine and add to a large bowl. When you're ready to serve, add a few TBSP dressing and toss to coat. Add more dressing one TBSP at a time to desired amount.
- Slice the chicken, and lay atop the salad. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and croutons, and serve.
(It's also possible to make a caesar dressing using mayonnaise in place of the raw eggs. However, because mayonnaise is already emulsified, you will need to reduce or eliminate the olive oil to avoid having a greasy, runny dressing. This will throw off the proportions of the other ingredients as well, but you're welcome to play around with them to come up with a raw-egg-free dressing that suits your tastes.)
**Traditional caesar dressing was made without anchovies or mustard. I've included them both here because I know I prefer it that way. They provide a nice roundness of flavor, without making the dressing taste fishy or mustardy (if you aren't a fan of anchovies or mustard, I doubt you'll even notice they're there). If you prefer to omit the anchovies, I suggest replacing them with a splash more worcestershire sauce.
I love that you just got the list of ingredients and went to town. Best way to make it “to taste.” I love the Ceasar dressing too (I like mine on anchovy/garlicky side as I like strong flavors, and in part to mask the stale croutons they sometimes serve in restaurants). Having fresh croutons must have made a lot of difference.
Indeed, the fresh croutons were amazing! I couldn’t believe how good they were. Will definitely make them again!
Who will not love this amazing salad? It looks awesome!!
I love caesar salad and not had it for so long, love the recipe; thanks.
You are welcome to join in my monthly food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here offering a new theme each month. All bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon.
Great, thanks for the invite! I’ll keep that in mind next time I make something that might fit the theme. :)
My ultimate favorite. I can never get bored with Caesar salad…This is something I must try!
Wonderful, hope you like it!
um.. i want this in my mouth. like right now.
hail caesar is right! that looks so delicious! and that dressing — yummmm! thanks for sharing!
Looks delicious. I have another variation on it but I’ll email you it…
What lovely photos soo yummy!
Hi Willow, It ‘s been so long since I write here on your blog, but if you look at my last post you’ll understand why :o)
I learn by reading your post that the caesar salad was invented by an Italian and it made me smile because here is almost impossible to find it in restaurants!
As always your presentation is impeccable.
Wow, what a beautiful place! And how funny that it’s so hard to find a caesar salad… fortunately, they aren’t difficult to make from scratch! :)
Who doesn’t love Caesar? And, btw, this is one of the first salads you can get kids to eat because it’s simple and not overloaded with “icky” vegetables. Mine are way past that point and totally into “icky” vegetables but I can remember being thrilled when they ate Caesar…I knew they’d come along. Adding the protein makes it a meal. Love it!
How true! It was probably one of the first salads I liked as a kid, but then again I was also into the’icky vegetables’… no one had to force me to eat my broccoli, I loved it! :P
You just cannot beat a caesar salad. Particularly when it looks as fresh and juicy as the one in your photos! I experimented with a yoghurt-based Caesar dressing a few days ago, it worked surprisingly well.
That’s a great idea, will have to try that sometime!
It looks so good. I can’t wait the moment to prepare it, my mouth is watering…
I absolutely ADORE your new header – so awesome!
And homemade croutons are so addicting…when i made them for my hunters stew i couldn’t help but eat them straight out of the pan :0
Thanks, Heather! It was about time for a new one. :)
This looks delicious! I have some fresh romaine I just cut in my garden last night. I know now how I’ll be using it :-D
Wonderful! Hope you like it!
What a gorgeous salad, this looks amazing! :)
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad is definitely one of my faves and a classic! Love this!
This is the info I have on the creation of the Caesar Salad:
The Caesar Salad was created at Caesar’s Bar & Grill in Tijuana, Mexico, just south of the border near the fragrant lemon groves of California. Caesar’s famous salad has been acclaimed by epicures the world over.
The recipe that was included was great! It included actual anchovies and was made in a large serving bowl on top of the romaine. I’ve never cared much for the mayo versions I’ve had at restaurants over the years. But I love Caesar Salad, so I am always willing to try them!
Your version sounds similar – so I must give it a try! =) Thank you!