Over the years I’ve tried many different Caesar Salad Dressing recipes, but they are either too spicy for the kids, or too raw-eggy for mom’s nerves, or too… I don’t know, not good enough. I clipped this recipe out of a magazine when I was first married, and it’s been taped to a recipe card ever since. I can’t give proper credit, because, let’s face it, 13 years ago I had no idea I’d be sharing it here, and I trimmed off all the details.
This recipe is our favourite because it’s fairly quick to make, doesn’t use raw eggs, and doesn’t really require anchovies if you’re having a hard time finding anchovy paste in your small town grocery store, or if you’re trying to keep your meal inexpensive. I mostly make it without.
It’s best if you make it at least an hour before serving, but I’ve done it 5 minutes before and it was still tasty.
I don’t measure for this recipe anymore, I usually make a double batch, toss things in and adjust it to taste by adding salt and more Worcestershire, but the quantities on the original recipe are as follows:
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp anchovy paste or 2 anchovy fillets, minced (optional)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
In a glass dish or Pyrex measuring cup, whisk together egg yolk, lemon juice and vinegar for 30 seconds or until it starts to foam around the edges. Whisk again. Microwave for another 10 seconds or until the edge foams.
In a food processor, blend yolk mixture, garlic, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Blend until smooth. If you’re like me and prefer the clean-up of an immersion blender, just add the ingredients in a wide mouth mason jar instead and blend. With machine running, gradually pour in olive oil. Mix in parmesan cheese. If the dressing is too thick, thin with a little water.
Serve with crisp romaine, croutons and bacon bits.
Here are a couple frugal time-saving tips for you:
CROUTONS: Store bought croutons have to be one of the highest revenue generators for manufacturers because they are SO cheap and easy to make (hello? stale bread anyone?) and they charge $1.99 to $2.99 for a small bag. When you think about it, one package is the equivalent of 3 or 4 slices of bread. At that rate, that’s like a $12 loaf of bread! And it’s stale people!
Instead, I use the 2-3 day old ends of my bread loaves, cut them into cubes, drizzle a little olive oil, garlic powder and parsley and/or oregano on them, toss them together and bake a few minutes in the oven, until golden. Easy and cheap, especially if it’s coming off my homemade bread which costs me about 70 cents a loaf, plus electricity for the oven. Though I don’t always get them in time, my family likes them best when I take them out in time for crispy outsides and chewy insides. Mmm…
BACON BITS: I never, ever, ever buy bacon unless it’s on sale. Regular price for some brands is $5.49/lb and I mean, really… it’s just not necessary to spend that much. Instead, I wait until it goes on sale for $1.99/ lb and then I buy about 12 pounds of it, which lasts us about 8 or 9 months. It freezes beautifully because of how it’s packaged, so there’s really no need to ever pay full price. We rarely use bacon to eat on its own – it’s mostly used as an ingredient in recipes. So, even though I only need a few slices off a pound, I always cook the full pound, or sometimes many. It means just one greasy pan to wash, but lots of cooked bacon as a result. I drain and cool it, chop it and put it in little containers (or mini-baggies) in the freezer. When I start washing the lettuce, I take them out of the freezer. When I’m adding the dressing, I throw them in the bowl and the tiny pieces are thawed by the time the bowl makes it to the table moments later. Easy peasy.
LETTUCE: It is surely the easiest thing to grow on your own. Try it this season and see how it goes! We eat use it pretty much every day in season – on wraps or sandwiches, in a salad, for “tuna boat” lunches. We run out to the garden, pluck off what we need and enjoy it moments later. It doesn’t get better than that. I’m not a great gardener, but lettuce is something that even I can manage. It’s hard to keep up with the speed at which it grows though, (and you need to get it before it becomes too tall and bitter) so don’t plant too many. To keep it simple, you could even plant it in a planter on your deck! (I think I may try this with my tomatoes this year to make sure they get as much sun as possible). It’s never-ending lettuce for pennies. Easy, cheap and healthy. It doesn’t get better than that.
This post has been linked to Tasty Tuesday over at Beauty and Bedlam. Jen’s post today makes me laugh… all about following recipes, or not. I’d have to say I use them as a guide, as I like to adjust for our desired healthiness, our tastes and our budget. And no, I wouldn’t mind at all if you didn’t post the exact quantities. Half the fun of cooking is the figuring out… :)