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January 10, 2011

Leaves in a bowl

Well, I lied. I didn't mean to lie but there you have it. While I often go on and on about how I don't love salad, especially the salads that are just a pile of leaves and grass in a bowl, there is actually one salad of this variety that I love. I just forgot about it. Probably because I only have it at restaurants, and even rarer still because when I eat out I have a hard time justifying a $15 salad. SERIOUSLY. Give me the steak instead.

So, the salad I'm talking about is a Caesar Salad, and I remembered it because of the January, 2011 O Magazine which features a Caesar salad recipe by Cristina Ferrare.

You know until recently I didn't realize people made their own salad dressings. I mean, yes, of course I saw people on TV shows do it. But I also saw people on TV who worked in coffee shops yet could afford to live in huge, amazing apartments in New York City. And we all know that doesn't happen in real life. I just assumed it was the same with salad dressing. Like people really make that at home!

As it turns out, one can actually make salad dressing at home. Fascinating.

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients

For croutons:

* 1 clove garlic , peeled and smashed
* 3 Tbsp. olive oil
* 3 cups roughly chopped bread cubes (like baguette or sourdough)

For dressing:

* 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
* 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
* 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
* 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
* 1 clove garlic , minced
* 4 anchovy fillets , chopped and mashed into a paste
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 2 Tbsp. canola oil

To assemble:

* 2 heads romaine lettuce (about 1 pound)
* 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
* 1/3 cup and 2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)

Directions
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

To make croutons: Place rack in middle position of oven; preheat to 350°. Combine smashed garlic clove and olive oil; infuse for 20 minutes.

Remove garlic from oil (it can be reserved and used to make the dressing). In a large bowl, toss oil and bread cubes together.

On a sheet tray, spread cubes in an even layer and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden and crunchy, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and cool. Croutons can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

To make dressing: In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic, and anchovies; whisk until smooth.

In another bowl, briefly whisk together olive and canola oils. Whisking lemon juice mixture constantly, add oil in a slow, steady stream. Use dressing immediately, or store in refrigerator for 1 day; shake well before using.

To make salad: Wash, dry, and tear lettuce into 11/2-inch pieces. In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, salt, 1/3 cup Parmesan, most of the croutons, and 1/2 of the dressing (reserve rest for another use). Toss salad together, making sure everything is thoroughly mixed. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and a handful of croutons.


I followed the recipe to the letter with just a few exceptions. I used Garlic Gold oil (which is a garlicky infused oil) on the croutons. And I used a gluten-free bread instead of a baguette.

Now listen, I have tried just about every single brand and kind of wheat-free bread available in Los Angeles County. I have even tried making my own (with disastrous results). When I was out at Whole Foods shopping for the anchovies, I saw a new gluten-free bread, Rudi's Original Gluten Free bread. I bought a loaf to try it out and I was shocked, shocked I tell you! I do not work for these people but I would, and you know why? This is BREAD. It actually looks and feels and tastes like bread. It's still not Wonder Bread, mind you, but it is by far the closest thing I have found to real GF bread. It's the texture. They got the texture just right.

Call your stores and request it. We have to keep these people in business -- my freezer can only hold so many loaves. They make a multigrain bread which is tasty, too. If you are allergic to wheat, or sensitive to it, or have Celiac, you have to try this bread (you can order it online, as well). And they have a $1 off coupon available to print.

After I made this recipe I called my mom to rave on and on about my awesome cooking skills (I made salad!) and she told me that if you're squeamish you can just buy anchovy paste instead of the fish an a jar, and while I am not squeamish and actually kind of liked mushing them up with a fork, you may not. I thought I would pass that tip along.

caesar1.jpg
Recipe


caesar2.jpg
Croutons-in-waiting


caesar3.jpg
Salad success


Leaves in a bowl ... I think this counts as cooking!

Posted by laurie at January 10, 2011 10:03 AM