Sunday, May 23, 2010

Red Romaine: Bloody Caesar

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         It’s hot, hot, hot here—still 82 degrees at 10:00 at night, after a blistering 90s earlier today. Not complaining: I love the heat. But when it came time to turn on the grill to cook my pork tenderloin, I decided I just wasn’t that hungry. I was planning to make a salad anyway, but decided to make it my meal. One of the very best stand-alone salads, in my opinion, is a Caesar salad. It’s got protein. It’s filling. It’s got lemon and garlic. It’s tangy and delicious. And it’s finger food. My favorite way to eat.

OK, I may have just lost you at the finger food part. Yes, Caesar salad can, in fact was meant to be, eaten without utensils. You can dunk the whole leaves into the dressing, like giant crudités. Or you can do what I do—at least when I’m alone—and dress the leaves, then pick them up and eat them. It’s a bit messy, like eating ribs or something, but only a bit. And it’s very satisfying.

There is very, very nice red romaine lettuce from California available now. We’ll have our own within the month, but for now, imported will do.


Bloody Caesar Salad

I mix this is in a lasagna plan so the leaves don’t get bruised. Serve it in individual flat bowls or small oval platters. Use only good quality bread for the croutons, or skip them. Serves 2.

8-10 perfect leaves of red romaine or romaine, washed, dried, and chilled
1 clove garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, placed in a glass measure
Enough lemon or lime juice to reach the ½ cup mark when added to the oil
1 large egg, beaten
½ tea salt
8 or more twists of the pepper mill
½ cup freshly grated parmesan

Homemade croutons—sliced French bread, salted, peppered, and toasted

Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to the oil and stir; set aside for about an hour.

Just before serving, toss the lettuce leaves with the egg in a lasagna pan or other large shallow dish. Add the lemon/line juice to the oil/garlic mixture and whisk to emulsify; remove the garlic and pour the dressing over the coated lettuce and toss well; taste for seasoning. Lift the leaves out, shaking them a bit, and place them in the serving bowls. Garnish with a toasted crouton or two; you can toss them briefly in any dressing remaining in the lasagna pan if you like. Generously sprinkle the salad with the parmesan, about ¼ cup for each serving. Theoretically, of course, you could mix the egg, the vinaigrette, and the cheese all together and toss it with the leaves. I just like it this way.

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racheld said...

We DO love a good Caesar, with lots of tartness, great snowings of Parm, and skillet-toasted croutons.

And I've made the dressing for years, as well as quarts of dinner-plate mayo, the tattered recipe beginning, "take one fresh egg," but I'd have to make the dressing, then pour it on. It's as delicious and perfect a thing as has been invented.

I love the idea of everyone's having things exactly as they like them, but I don't think I could ever get past the idea of anointing those crisp leaves with pure raw egg, then the other ingredients.

Jane said...

I probably should at least have said: coddle the egg for a minute if you wish. Raw does make people squirmy. Mixing it up sort of drains away the ick factor.