Posted: January 26, 2023 in Food, Recipes
Tags: , , ,

For my family, a Caesar salad is the only salad to serve on special occasions. But it all starts with a little history…

If someone told me that the classic Caesar salad was invented in Tijuana, Mexico, I’d say they were crazy. But that’s one bizarre truth in the creation of one of the world’s most iconic salads.

Famous restaurateur, Caesar Cardini, ran a restaurant in San Diego back in the early 1900’s. But when Prohibition hit the states, he opened another location in Mexico…Tijuana, to be exact, luring many of the day’s Hollywood stars across the border. They could gamble in Mexico, and they could feast on food and alcohol at Cardini’s.

The story goes that one July 4th, they were running out of food, and thinking quickly, Cardini created a salad at the spur of the moment, using only the ingredients he could find in the kitchen. Having the chef assemble the salad tableside meant it came with a grand performance, and word quickly spread of the incredible “Caesar salad.” (Cardini named it after himself.) Cardini’s is still at its original Tijuana location, and they serve thousands of Caesar salads, with a flamboyant tableside show, to tourists.

Though Cardini didn’t believe anchovies should be in his salad (they say Worcestershire was used instead), anchovies were eventually added when his brother, Alex, tweaked the recipe years later. (The Worcestershire was removed.)

It needs to be said that raw egg yolks are used in Caesar salad, and if you’re not comfortable using them because of salmonella concerns, you shouldn’t. Sometimes coddled eggs (slightly boiled) are used. Some stores, though not many, sell pasteurized eggs in the shell. I haven’t had a chance to use them–or even find them. And now you can get liquid eggs, whole eggs that have been pasteurized and come in a carton. The problem is that you only need the yolks, and you can’t separate them from the whites. (Nonetheless, I gave it a shot and it wasn’t half bad. But far from the perfection of using real yolks. See the bottom of this blog.)

For many, including myself, it ain’t a Caesar without raw egg, so I’m willing to take my chances.

This Caesar recipe remains the best I’ve ever had.


The ingredients.


The first really important ingredient to get is a wooden bowl. No other bowl will do. We have an old wooden bowl at home with almost mystical properties that is used for nothing but our Caesar salad, and I have to say that it makes all the difference in the world.


The mystical wooden bowl. Years of Caesar salads have given it a special seasoning.


Once you have the bowl, what matters most is the freshest, best quality ingredients you can find: farm-fresh eggs, not supermarket ones…Parmigiano Reggiano, not generic Parmesan. The best quality extra virgin olive oil. Fresh lemon juice. Freshly cracked black pepper. High-quality anchovies. And organic Romaine lettuce. (Organic bibb or leaf lettuces make great substitutes.)

After that, it’s all about the love.


The process begins…

4 raw egg yolks
8 oz. good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
fresh garlic (optional…see below)
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
4 anchovies
the juice of 1 lemon
4 oz. grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 large heads organic Romaine lettuce, washed, stems removed, torn by hand

Place the egg yolks in the wooden bowl and whisk them until well mixed.

While whisking the yolks, pour the olive oil in the bowl VERY SLOWLY, whisking all the time, never stopping. Keep pouring the olive oil slowly until you’ve whisked all of it into the eggs and you get a beautiful emulsion.

Keep whisking and add the Dijon mustard, then the black pepper. You might need someone to hold the bowl for you as you whisk. Or…place a wet kitchen towel under the bowl to stabilize it.

In a separate small bowl, mash the anchovies with a fork–even better, use a mortar and pestle, if you have one. Don’t leave any chunks. Slowly add the mashed anchovies to the wooden bowl, mixing them in with the whisk to combine the ingredients. You want them to dissolve completely in the dressing.

Once the dressing has reached its desired consistency, add the lemon juice and whisk some more.

When it’s all mixed together, dip a finger in the dressing and give it a taste. Does it need more lemon juice to cut the oil? Slice a second lemon and add a little. Taste again. Enough black pepper? There should be enough salt from the anchovies and the cheese is still to come.

If you think you’ve “got it,” sprinkle in the Parmigiano Reggiano, whisking slowly. Then add the Romaine leaves to the salad bowl and toss gently to coat the lettuce.

When serving, top each salad serving with a little more cheese. Extra anchovies are optional.



If you’re saying “where’s the garlic?” …you’re right. Every good Caesar needs some. This recipe would use about 1 teaspoon of fresh, finely chopped garlic, added after the mustard. If I’m cooking alone, I always add the garlic. But we have people in our household that are allergic to garlic, so when family is here, we leave it out. The flavors of the dressing are so deliciously intense, you’ll be surprised how good it is without it!





Recently, I came across a recipe that is not a traditional Caesar, but is close enough for rock ‘n’ roll. It has several ingredients that a true Caesar wouldn’t include, like bacon and hard-boiled eggs, but there’s no denying it’s absolutely delicious, especially when you toast the croutons in the bacon fat!


1 large head of Romaine lettuce
1/2 lb. bacon, cubed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 anchovies
2 hard-boiled egg yolks
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup (or more) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Olive oil
Bread for croutons

Since the bread is the only non-gluten-free ingredient in the salad, if you want it to be gluten-free, just use GF bread, or skip it altogether. Chop the bread for croutons into small cubes. Set it aside.

Fry up half a pound of bacon, leaving the fat in the pan. Make sure the bacon is crispy. Chop it up and place it in a bowl on paper towels. Set it aside.



Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan in a convection oven and bake it at a low temperature, 150° or so, until it’s brown and toasted, tossing the cubes around every 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and set it aside.



Take the pan with the bacon fat and heat it. Add the garlic. Fry the garlic for a few seconds, then add the croutons and toss them around until they’re cooked and the bacon fat has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and place the croutons in a separate bowl.

Chop up the lettuce and place it in a large bowl. Set it aside.

Chop up the two hard-boiled egg yolks and placed them in a large wooden bowl, big enough for the salad. Add the juice of half a lemon, the Dijon mustard, and the capers.

Using a fork, squish the anchovy fillets on a cutting board into a paste and add them to the bowl.

Whisk everything together for a minute, then slowly add the olive oil in a tiny stream as you continue whisking, until you get the consistency of the dressing that you like. Season with salt and pepper. Add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Whisk again.



Add lettuce to the dressing and toss with tongs. Then add the croutons and bacon bits to the salad and toss one last time.



Not a true Caesar, but delicious…and because hard-boiled egg yolks are used, there are no salmonella concerns.


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