Caesar salad must be one of the most popular salads served in restaurants around the world. When it is done â€œright,â€ it is a perfect balance of crispness, sweetness, saltiness and creaminess. I had to prepare a salad for about a dozen people who were going to dinner at a friendâ€™s house the other night so I decided to do a large Caesar salad. Here are Marketmanâ€™s tips for a delicious homemade Caesar salad. First, the key is to get good fresh sweet romaine lettuce. I know, I know, I can be a pain in the neck about my absolutes, but iceberg lettuce does not make a good caesar salad in my personal opinion. I bought 3 packages of romaine hearts from my suki lettuce source Fresh Fields at Market!Market! These were then washed, dried and returned to the fridge for at least 3 hours to crisp up the leaves as much as possible. I purchased the leaves just the day before I used them. Longer than a couple of days old and the lettuce starts to lose its freshness and the sweetness associated with freshly picked leaves. For the sake of presentation, I sorted the leaves from 10 romaine hearts from biggest to smallest and recreated a giant â€œheadâ€ of lettuce in a large 20-inch wide narra salad bowl. It looked pretty cool, don’t you think?
Next, I made some homemade sourdough bread croutons. Homemade croutons are 500% better than store-bought. To make, just cube several slices of sourdough bread (I bought a loaf at the Peninsula Hotel Bakery), toss with some good olive oil and sprinkle in sea salt and place on a baking pan in a hot oven say 350-400 degrees. Take the pan out every 2-3 minutes and toss the bread cubes until they reach a nice golden brown. Donâ€™t overcook them. They should be crunchy on the outside and still a little soft inside. They are addictive at this stage if you have made them right. Homemade croutons really make a difference, trust me. Next, make your Caesar salad dressing either from an earlier recipe I posted or a more classic dressing starting with egg yolks, anchovies, oil, lemon, etc. The key is good anchovies and superbly fresh ingredients such as organic eggs, good parmesan cheese, a nice olive oil, etc. Lots of freshly cracked black pepper is desired. Finally, drizzle your dressing over the romaine leaves just before serving. Drizzle dressing on the croutons and add these to the salad. Generously sprinkle everything with grated parmesan cheese. This sounds a bit involved and extravagant but it is not. Once you get the hang of it, it is incredibly simple and the cost is way below any of the mediocre Caesar salads you tend to get in Manila restaurants! My apologies for last photo that is out of focus, I was too embarrassed to photograph the finished salad in our friendâ€™s kitchenâ€¦