This is my very favorite Caesar Salad recipe. Crisp, hand torn romaine lettuce is tossed in a creamy, classic Caesar Salad dressing made from scratch, then embellished with shatteringly crisp croutons, grated parmesan cheese, and crispy capers. It's heavenly.
If the story is true, we can thank a rush of unexpected restaurant patrons in 1924 for Caesar Salad. The story goes that an Italian restaurateur in Tijuana, Mexico, Caesar Cardini, was caught off guard by too many customers on the 4th of July. He improvised the few ingredients he had left in the kitchen and tossed them tableside for the serendipitous diners.
Homemade Dressing is Key
When I started thinking about creating my own Caesar Salad recipe, I focused on the one key element: Caesar Salad Dressing. Classic ingredients combined in just the right proportions for a reliably delicious dressing: egg yolk, fresh garlic and lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, anchovy filets, Dijon mustard, parmesan cheese, olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Quality ingredients matter here because this salad is all about the dressing.
If you're not sure about using anchovy filets (my favorite brand), feel free to swap in anchovy paste which has a milder flavor (½ teaspoon of anchovy paste for each anchovy filet). But I hope you'll be game to try the dressing with anchovies at least once, you may be surprised. They add a wonderful umami flavor without fishiness (just as they work their magic in Bagna Cauda). Similarly, if you're concerned about eating raw egg yolks, swap in mayonnaise (2 tablespoons of mayonnaise for 1 egg yolk).
What goes into a Caesar Salad?
This is largely a classic version of Caesar Salad, just lettuce, traditional dressing (the original didn't have anchovies, but most modern versions consider them a key component) and croutons. But I have twisted the norm on a couple of things: oven crisped capers and oversized croutons. Taking the place of traditional croutons are thin slices of crusty bread drizzled with olive oil and toasted until crisp enough to shatter easily under your fork. And the addition of crispy capers are for spark, little bursts of salty-crisp flavor in every bite.
More Classic Salad Recipes to Try:
- Egg Salad (coarsely chopped eggs and just the right amount of dressing!)
- Spinach Salad (a family favorite for more than 30 years!)
- Nicoise Salad (the French bistro favorite!)
- Crab Salad (this one is ALL about the real lump crab)
- Wedge Salad (just like you order at your favorite steakhouse!)
How to Make Caesar Salad
Step 1: Make croutons and crispy capers: bake capers and thin slices of crusty bread drizzled with olive oil on a baking sheet in a 375˚F oven until crisp. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Step 2: Make Caesar Salad Dressing by combining egg yolk, garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, anchovy filets, Dijon mustard and parmesan cheese in a blender pitcher. Blend until smooth then, with the blender running, add olive oil in a steady stream and blend until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 3: In a large bowl toss hand torn romaine lettuce with dressing, half of the capers and more parmesan cheese until combined. Divide among serving bowls, top with croutons, remaining capers and more parmesan cheese if desired. Serve.
Caesar Salad with Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing
Crispy Capers and Croutons:
- ⅓ cup capers rinsed and patted dry
- 6 thin slices sourdough loaf or other crusty bread, try for ¼-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Caesar Salad Dressing:
For the salad:
- 12 ounces romaine lettuce hearts hand torn into bite size pieces
- 1 ounce grated parmesan cheese or more
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange bread slices on one half of the baking sheet and sprinkle capers in a single layer on the other. Drizzle bread slices with olive oil. Bake 15 minutes or until bread is golden brown and capers are crispy. (Capers may require another 5 to 15 minutes to fully crisp. Remove bread and check capers every 3-5 minutes until crisp.) Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Add all dressing ingredients except oil (lemon juice through Parmesan cheese) to the pitcher of a blender; blend until smooth. With blender running, slowly add olive oil and continue to blend until thoroughly combined. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Place torn romaine in a large bowl. Top with desired amount of dressing, parmesan cheese and ½ of the crispy capers. Toss to distribute cheese and capers and coat with dressing.
- Divide salad between 6 large salad plates. Top each salad with one crouton, a sprinkle of remaining capers and more Parmesan cheese if desired. Serve.
- This recipe makes ample Caesar Salad Dressing, so take care not to overdress. Add less dressing than you think you'll want, toss and add more dressing as needed.
- I specify 'hand torn' because using a knife will cause the lettuce to brown at the edges more quickly. Feel free to ignore this and use a knife if you prefer.
- You'll want a good bread knife to thinly slice the bread, here are a couple of options - a splurge and a steal.