A while back, I was asked by the site Foodie Pages if I’d like to contribute a “Best Ever” recipe. Of course I knew they didn’t mean “best ever” in the “I’ve tried ever recipe ever written and declared this the best” way. What they meant was a recipe that is so good that I’ve stopped looking for a better one.
In my opinion, the best Caesar salad dressing recipe, combines with homemade croutons and romaine lettuce to make my favourite Caesar Salad.
When I started thinking about things I cook that fall in to that category, the list was surprisingly short. Fact is, there are really only a handful of dishes that I can honestly say that I’ve stopped looking for a “better” recipe. This Caesar Salad is one of them.
This salad recipe delivers completely on my idea of Caesar Salad perfection. It features real, crispy bacon pieces, homemade croutons (that are crispy, but that you can stick a fork in to, because I am not a fan of rock-hard croutons). They are cooked in some of the bacon fat, which adds great flavour, but also prevents them from becoming too hard. The dressing is dreamy, creamy, full of garlic and with a hit of fresh lemon juice and Parmesan. It has enough garlic to satisfy any garlic-lover, but not so much that it over-powers the other flavours. It’s a thing of beauty!
This recipe makes lots of dressing, probably more than you’ll need. Keep the extra in the fridge for more salads and veggie dipping!
The ingredients assembled in my kitchen. I rarely photograph in my kitchen, as it’s really dark and I have to shoot at a really high ISO (so it’s grainy), but I kind of liked the moody effect.
- For the croutons:
- 5 strips of bacon, diced
- 1/2 of a day-old baguette, cut into cubes
- Pinch of salt and pepper, oregano, basil, mustard powder and thyme
- For the dressing:
- 2 fresh garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 cup vegetable, canola or other neutral oil
- Juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/4 cup. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- For the salad:
- 1 large head Romaine lettuce, separated into leaves, then washed and thoroughly dried.
- Lemon slices, for serving and additional Parmesan, for serving
- Make the croutons and bacon bits: In a skillet, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside, reserving the bacon fat. Pour the bacon fat into a large bowl and add the cubed baguette. Add the salt and pepper, oregano, basil, mustard powder and thyme and toss until the cubes are completely coated. Place cubes onto a baking sheet and bake in a 350° F. oven until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally (about 10-15 minutes). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
- Make the dressing: Place the minced garlic in to a food processor or blender. Add the salt, vinegar, egg and Dijon mustard and process lightly until the ingredients are mixed. With the processor running, very slowly add the oil (a drop at a time at first), then increasing to a trickle, until all the oil is added and completely mixed in. Add the lemon juice, pepper and Parmesan cheese and mix in.
- To serve: Tear the Romaine into bite-sized pieces into a large bowl. Add enough salad dressing to moisten the lettuce. Sprinkle the bacon bits and croutons on top, and a little more Parmesan cheese. Toss to combine. Serve with a slice of lemon and additional Parmesan.