Lemons Lemons are one of my favorite flavor enhancers but you need to be careful of the white pith. If you cook the pith, it turns very bitter. Cooking the rind or pulp is fine but never use the pith or seeds. I remember discovering this disturbing fact cooking chicken piccata for the first time. I thought I could enhance the flavor by cooking lemon slices in the sauce but instead I got a bitter taste I couldn't correct with sugar.
My Favorite Pan My favorite pan is a twenty dollar cast iron pan. I remember vividly how my step-father coveted his iron pan and warned us about not using soap to clean it. Seasoned and maintained properly, an iron pan can last forever. It is better than any non stick pan and far more durable. It's thick base holds heat better than any pan in my arsenal and prevents food from burning by dispersing the heat.
Caeser salads are remarkably easy to make. I love the zing of the fresh lemon, the saltiness of the anchovy and the spiciness of the fresh garlic. This dressing really packs a punch that will wake up your ordinary weekday dinner meals. My wife always does a little dance of joy when I make this dressing so hopefully it will become a classic in your household!
I almost always use Romaine Hearts in my Caeser salads, which are the center leaves of Romaine lettuce. The inner leaves are crunchier and sweeter, perfectly suited for Caeser salad. Don't buy the precut stuff in a bag as it isn't as fresh, generally already browning at the cut edges. It only takes a few seconds to cut up a head of lettuce. With Romaine, I like to cut it down the center lengthwise and then slice it every one inch or so, discarding the bottom two inches.
If you don't tell people who don't like anchovies that anchovies are in your dressing, they'll never know and will heartily exclaim how good the dressing is. Don't make the mistake of telling them or they'll stop eating. I know from experience. Let them live in ignorant bliss. Besides, if you pulverize the garlic and anchovies well, your guests will never know. A fork is good enough to break up the garlic and anchovies to release their juices in order to better combine with the rest of the ingredients.
But, let's get real. Crushing the anchovies and garlic with a fork is time consuming, neck breaking and just plain irritating. That's why I've resorted to mushing both the anchovies and garlic through a garlic press, mashing everything in one swift maneuver. Not sure why I didn't think of this a hundred Caeser salads ago but better late than never!
Whisk all the ingredients together minus the olive oil. It's better for the different ingredients to play together before adding the oil. Oil just gets in the way of the flavors marrying so add the oil after the rest of the ingredients are blended nicely. I like to let my dressing sit at room temperature for at least a couple hours before I serve it, giving the flavors a chance to meld even further
Caeser salad has a bold flavor, especially the way this recipe treats the standard ingredients. This allows it to stand up as a side salad against other strong dishes like pesto noodles or really any Italian dish like lasagna, spaghetti with tomato sauce or eggplant parmesan. The acidity of the lemon cuts through these heavy dishes, making them feel lighter. But, it also does well on it's own as an entire meal, especially if you add some Croutons, a couple Parmesan Crisps and some shaved pecorino romano.