RECIPES

Easy Escarole Caesar Salad Recipe

This salad is a blend of many recipes. I would say that the idea to use escarole came from different experiences with salads. I like sour greens but recognize that they can sometimes taste too sour, which is why this is such a great recipe: by blending the cheese, lemon, and anchovy we can balance the whole thing much better.

The dressing has a similar approach to making aioli, but it’s more forgiving. Since this dressing uses a whole egg, rather than just using yolks, it won’t emulsify to the same density as an aioli, so in order to achieve a nice creamy texture, you will need to pour the olive oil in a slow and steady way while you quickly whisk. The dressing won’t come together entirely until you add the cheese, and when you do, you’ll want to use it on everything.

You need to keep the dressing in the refrigerator for a few days if you make it ahead of time, but it’s necessary to let it come to room temperature before adding it to your salad. Because of its fat content, the dressing will solidify when chilled, and trying to toss cold dressing with fresh greens is like trying to dress a salad with butter—not a pleasant experience.

Everyone has his or her favorite Caesar salad. You can add more garlic, anchovy, or lemon as you like, but remember that the flavors bloom as they sit, so make one final seasoning adjustment just before serving.

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • A quarter teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons of anchovy paste (4 to 5 fillets)
  • 1¼ teaspoons of garlic paste
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • Three quarters teaspoon of salt
  • Half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of ground Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • ⅛ teaspoon of Tabasco sauce
  • ⅛ teaspoon of fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce

     Croutons

  • A quarter loaf from a day-old baguette
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon of salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

Salad

  • 2 heads of flat-leaf escarole, or 3 romaine hearts
  • Half a lemon
  • 2 ounces of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Anchovy fillets for garnish
  • Flat-leaf parsley leaves for garnish

How To Make It?

     The Dressing

  1. Pu the whole egg in a small heatproof bowl and pour in the boiling water to cover. Let the submerged egg sit for 1 minute. (Coddling the egg this way decreases bacteria accumulation on the shell and helps the emulsification process.)
  2. Remove the egg from the water then crack it into a mixing bowl and begin beating. When the yolk is broken up and gains a smooth texture slowly start pouring in the oil while you beat. You don’t have to beat fast; it’s more important to beat and pour the oil consistently.
  3. When you’ve added about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, add the mustard, and then continue to pour in the rest of the oil while beating until the mixture is totally emulsifies in about 5 minutes.
  4. Add your anchovy and garlic paste, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Tabasco, and fish sauce and blend them together.

The Croutons

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F and cut the baguette as thinly as possible, about ⅛ inch or the width of two quarters. As you cut, smash it down with your other hand and try to make the cuts as even as possible so they will all take the same time to cook.
  2. Transfer the bread slices in a mixing bowl. Then, in a small saucepan, heat the butter and oil over medium to low heat until the butter is melted. Pour the heated butter-oil mixture around the perimeter of the mixing bowl while holding the bread.
  3. While using your hands, toss the bread to coat it evenly with the fat and season the bread with the salt and pepper. Spread your bread evenly on a baking sheet.
  4. Next, toast the bread while rotating the pan frequently. Check the croutons after 5 minutes and set a timer for 1 minute. Rotate the pan and check the croutons every minute for another 4 to 5 minutes or until the croutons are light golden brown. Then, remove fully toasted slices as they are ready.

     The Salad

  1. Cut off the very end of the base of each escarole and dump the dark outer leaves. Tear the remaining pale green leaves into 3-inch pieces and if you’re using romaine, trim off the end of the base of each lettuce but leave the head intact.
  2. Slice the heads diagonally into three pieces and create 2- to 3-inch pieces. Wash your greens and dry well to ensure you don’t dilute the dressing with excess moisture.
  3. Then, in a medium-large mixing bowl, toss the cooled croutons with half a cup of the dressing and let sit for 5 minutes. Put the escarole on top of the croutons and spoon a very generous amount of dressing over the greens.
  4. It’s better to be heavy-handed with this dressing than being too light. Toss with your hands to blend them well while tasting and adjusting the seasoning. You can squeeze the lemon half over the top of the salad for a burst of freshness. Garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano, the anchovy fillets, and the parsley. Enjoy!
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