Neighborhood Caesar Salad with Texas Toast Croutons

I was trained in salad by my neighbor.

So many times a salad is either the entire entrée – where it gets the attention it deserves – or it is the opening act for the main course where it plays second fiddle. This salad is a star in either role.

There are hundreds of variations on the classic Caesar salad – brisk and crisp and paired with crunchy croutons – and this is mine which was shamelessly copied from my neighbor for many years although the croutons are my additon. My children grew up on this salad and to this day it is the one they expect me to make as our “house” recipe. Fortunately, I love it too.

For a bowl of salad, proportions are relative

2 anchovy filets, canned with some oil

1 tsp kosher salt

a few grinds of black pepper to taste

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3/4 cup oil, either neutral vegetable oil or olive oil

1/4 to 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, very finely grated

fresh young romaine lettuce leaves, washed and spun dry

extra cheese for garnish

1 to 2 cups Texas toast croutons, recipe follows

In a large salad bowl place the anchovies, mustard, salt and pepper. Mash the mixture well with a large spoon. Add the red wine vinegar and mix to incorporate. Add the olive oil slowly and mix to combine but your goal is to not form an emulsion. These types of salad dressings benefit from not being overly combined. Add half of the cheese and mix well. Drop in the lettuce leaves and toss gently. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese once it is tossed. Season again to taste with salt and pepper before serving with Texas toast croutons.

Texas Toast Croutons:

These are relatively tasty and easy to make but use caution to avoid overcooking. Cut French bread into 1 inch cubes to make about 4 cups. Heat 1 cup of vegetable oil in a large skillet until it is hot but not smoking. Add the bread to the hot oil and fry while constantly turning the pieces with a slotted spoon. As soon as they are brown – remove them. If you leave them too long they will over cook and burn. Dry them on a paper towel.

#caesar #salad #croutons #anchovies #texas

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Dan McCoy

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