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Ever since “Martha Stewart Living” ran a “Caesar Salad 101″ article a few years ago, I’ve been meaning to make an old-school, anchovies-included Caesar Salad.

I just hadn’t had all of the ingredients assembled in the house AT THE SAME TIME, at least not until last week, when I was cleaning the pantry and found a tin of anchovies.

Last Christmas, as a joke, Mom had filled the stockings for Jeff and my brother-in-law, Taylor, with tins of Spam®, sardines, Vienna sausages – and anchovies.

Anyway, anchovies! I finally had everything I needed to make a real, honest to goodness, genuine, bona fide, authentic Caesar salad, including a free afternoon to myself, without anyone to complain or “Ewwwwww!” about the raw egg yolks. (Which can be substituted with a tablespoon of store-bought mayonnaise, if you so desire.)

Hail, Caesar!

While most homemade salad dressings involve a blender or a food processor or a quick shake in a jar, there’s a zen quality to making the Caesar dressing. It’s meditative. You grab a wooden bowl and a wooden spoon and set out to the pleasantly mindless task of grinding each ingredient for the dressing into a paste. Mashing the garlic cloves. Stirring in the yolks and Dijon mustard. Grinding the anchovies. Adding a little freshly squeezed lemon juice. Then salt and pepper.

And once you start slowly stirring in the olive oil, that funky paste you’ve made transforms before your eyes into a creamy dressing.

The flavors are way more intense than the typical “crouton salads” you find in most restaurants. Creamy and salty, with a lot of bite.

And now that I know how to make a real Caesar salad, I can finally focus on recreating those Vienna sausages.

Caesar Salad

Adapted from MarthaStewart.com

    Croutons:

  • 6 slices (1-inch) ciabatta or another crusty white bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • Coarse salt (to taste)
    Salad:

  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 large egg yolks (or 1 tablespoon store-bought mayonnaise)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 to 5 anchovies
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, washed and dried thoroughly and torn into 2-inch pieces
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)
  1. For Croutons: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, toss bread cubes with remaining crouton ingredients. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and toast croutons until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. In a large wooden bowl, using a wooden spoon, mash halved garlic cloves to a fine paste. Stir in egg yolks and Dijon mustard. Add anchovies, and grind to a paste. Add lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Slowly stir in olive oil until dressing is creamy.
  3. Add lettuce to bowl, and toss to coat leaves thoroughly with dressing and grated Parmesan. Sprinkle croutons over salad, and serve topped with Parmesan shavings.