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Hail Caesar (Salad)!

In the arena of culinary greens, the Caesar Salad is king. This light yet satisfying concoction of tossed greens with a creamy dressing is always a sure winner when served in any restaurant. But a perfectly made Caesar Salad is a thing of beauty whose taste lingers hours after you’ve eaten your dessert.

I always order a Caesar Salad whenever I go out and eat a restaurant. If it’s on the menu it’s surely going to be in the salad course. I know, true Caesar Salad is not exactly the most health conscious of choices. But then few salads actually taste as good as a Caesar. So I allow myself to live a little and compromise.

Origins of the Caesar Salad

The Caesar Salad was not named after Julius Caesar, contrary to popular belief. This wrong origin of this salad is probably one of the most common culinary misconceptions. But although it was not named after the great Roman legend, it is indeed named after a man – Caesar Cardini, to be exact. Chef Caesar, according to legend, invented the Caesar Salad in Tijuana, Mexico way back in 1924. The story goes that there was an influx of customers at his restaurant and he decided to make do with what ingredients he had left in the kitchen. To add a certain dramatic flair to his “invention” he decided to prepare it tableside. A tableside preparation of Caesar Salad is actually one of the hallmarks of this dish. It actually gives you a feeling of old world charm whenever the chef or a restaurant staff prepares food right in front of you.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad with Parmesan - Photo by FotoosVanRobin

There has been a lot of debate about what constitutes a real Caesar Salad. Go to any culinary forum and you’ll likely find a debate about whether an authentic Caesar Salad contains anchovies or not. Pro-anchovy supporters say that the addition of this fish is what gives the dressing that slightly fishy taste. The other camp, on the other hand, will say that anchovies are not needed. To end the debate once and for all, the original recipe of Caesar Cardini reportedly doesn’t have any anchovies. Instead, he used Worcestershire sauce to impart that fishy taste to the dressing.

Another point of contention in making Caesar Salad is the use of an egg, which imparts the creamy texture to the dressing. Some recipes do call for the use of a raw egg, but with salmonella a very real concern, you can use a coddled egg instead. Coddling an egg is quite easy, just put the egg in boiling water and let it boil for just a minute before removing it from the water. The result is a slightly firmer and more viscous yolk.

Caesar Salad recipes

Caesar Salad

This recipe melds together the two ingredients that has caused debates about Caesar Salad authenticity – Worcestershire sauce and anchovies. Other than that, it’s a fairly straightforward – and relatively accurate – recipe.

Caesar Salad and Dressing

This Caesar Salad and Dressing recipe features Dijon mustard. Health conscious eaters do use mustard as a substitute for the egg as it lends creaminess to the dressing. This recipe does include both the egg and the mustard. Just increase the mustard if you want to forego the egg.

Caesar Salad with Fried Oysters

Caesar Salad can also be considered as a foundation on which to build fancier salads. This recipe, which incorporates fried oysters, is a very luxurious variation. Make this for an intimate dinner and your dessert could be served in the bedroom.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Grilled Chicken Caesar saladProbably the most common variation of the classic Caesar Salad is one with grilled chicken added to the whole mix to make it more fortifying. People on a diet love to eat this dish because it’s a guilt-free indulgence.

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