Thursday, January 24, 2008

How to make my Dad's Caesar Salad

My Dad is a "meat and potatoes" kinda guy. I think a perfect meal in his eyes would be a grilled rare steak with a baked potato and LOTS of garlicky homemade caesar salad.

It was a tradition in our house that at least every other week Dad grilled steaks for dinner, mom baked the potatoes, and usually Dad made the caesar salad. It was my job to either rub toast with garlic for croutons or tear up the romaine lettuce into bite size peices.

Our family caesar salad has a unique history. My grandfather went on business trips when my dad was growing up. He would visit really exotic places like... Chicago! While my grandfather was visiting Chicago during one trip he went to a big fancy restaurant which served caesar salad! My grandfather was so impressed with the salad that he asked the chef to come out and tell him how to make the salad, since it wasn't likely they would be serving this stuff in rural western North Carolina any time soon! The chef obliged and gave my grandfather the recipe.

My grandfather taught both his sons how to make this amazing salad, and the tradition has been passed on ever since. You can bet that at any family related event we might be having, a fresh homemade caesar salad will probably appear.

When Michael and I got married, one of my first requests was that he learn how to make this caesar salad.

When Michael first tried this salad he could only stand a few bites! It was just entirely too garlicky and tart with red wine vinegar for his tastes! Now, nearly 4 years later, Michael IS the one adding more red wine vinegar because it wasn't tart enough for HIM! He loves this stuff and I am so glad! When we have this salad now, Michael always makes the caesar dressing and I'm still stuck with my job of tearing up the lettuce leaves and making the now gluten free croutons!

So... here is how we make this awesome salad:

Dad's Caesar Salad
  • 5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 med. garlic clove
  • 1 Tbsp. anchovy paste
  • 4 slices gluten free bread
  • Sea Salt/Pepper
  • 1 large head Romaine lettuce
  • 4 small garlic cloves (for croutons)
  • 3/4 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1. For starters, you need a big wooden bowl! Preferably one that you ONLY use for caesar salad as the garlic tends to flavor the wood! The bowl we used growing up was hand carved from one huge peice of wood! Michael and I found a very similar and much older bowl at an antique store years ago and I had to have it for just this purpose!

2. Rinse out your wooden bowl and smush fresh garlic cloves all over the inside of the bowl.

3. Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, egg yolk, dry mustard, anchovy paste, and finally freshly ground sea salt and pepper to your liking. Mix thoroughly.

4. Rinse the romaine leaves and pat them dry. Tear leaves into bite size peices and toss into salad bowl.

5. Bake 4-5 pieces of very thinly sliced gluten-free bread. Rub bread slices with small garlic cloves and bake at 375 degrees until dry and toasted. Break or cut slices into croutons.

6. Add freshly grated parmesan cheese and toss salad. Serve Immediately. Supposed to make 4-6 servings. Michael and I can eat a whole salad as a main dish! Excellent served with grilled chicken or salmon.

For a printer friendly version, click here.

  • If you are highly opposed to using raw eggs, you can make the dressing without the egg yolk! It is still very good (just not authentic!) We've never had a problem doing this.
  • Also, we skipped the parm. cheese last night since we're not eating dairy this week. I can tell you that I really missed the cheese!~
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