This recipe has been tailored to accompany the Edible Learning Lab Teaching Kitchen collection of lessons. The simplified instructions make it an ideal recipe for young students. It is intended to accompany the lesson, Microplane It.
How much do you know about the history of the Caesar Salad? Would you have guessed it originated in Tijuana?
There are a couple of conflicting stories as to who invented the Caesar Salad and when it was first served. But by all accounts it originated in a restaurant in Tijuana called Caesar’s Place, run by San Diego resident and Italian immigrant Caesar (Cesare) Cardini. He and his brothers lived in San Diego in the 1920s but ran the popular restaurant in Tijuana to avoid the prohibition laws in the US. Caesar’s Place became a popular party destination for Hollywood celebrities and military stationed in San Diego. Who made the salad first, why and for who differs depending on who’s story you believe. But the best rendition is that the salad was originally made for a group of rowdy Air Force pilots from Rockwell Field who had slept off the previous night’s exploits at Caesar’s and needed a good breakfast to ease their hangovers. The salad was made table-side and mixed together in a wooden bowl before being served and was meant to be eaten by hand. It was well received and became known as the Aviator’s Salad until it gained popularity and “Let’s get that salad at Caesar’s” evolved into the Caesar’s Salad.
Cesare’s brother, Alex Cardini (who claimed to have originally made the salad for the pilots in the story), eventually moved to Mexico City and opened several restaurants. He brought the salad recipe with him and it was listed on his menu as “The Original Alex Cardini Caesar Salad”.
Making this dressing as described above is a great way to store the dressing for later. The original salad was dressed one salad at a time, maybe to serve 3 or 4 people at a table. If you want to make a show of serving your Caesar Salad, say for a parent participation night or a cooking demo, you can follow the original table-side process.
Crush a clove of garlic and pour your oil over it in a small bowl. Let sit for at least 30 minutes so the garlic flavor can become infused in the oil.
If you are going to prepare your own croutons, use a baguette to cut your croutons (whatever size you want), brush them with some of the garlic infused oil and bake for 10-12 minutes in the oven until golden brown.
In a large bowl, start with the tender hearts of romaine lettuce (cleaned, patted dry and chilled in the fridge). Add salt and pepper and mix the salad by rolling the salad (not tossing). Pour a small amount of the oil over the lettuce, add the egg yolk then the lemon (or key lime) juice and mix thoroughly (remember to roll, not toss, this makes the dressing emulsify around the leaves). Add a few drops of the Worcestershire sauce and toss lightly. Then grate fresh Parmesan cheese over the salad and toss gently. Lastly, add your croutons and give the salad one last toss making sure everything has a good coat of the dressing.
Serve on chilled plates and dress with additional grated Parmesan and a little cracked black pepper.