“Extreme” Caesar Salad Recipe (And Homemade Croutons!)

About a year or so ago, I happened across a post – maybe it was a tweet? – where someone mentioned using mayo as a base for Caesar dressing.

I hadn’t considered it before – it’s easy enough to make an emulsion with a stick blender or food processor after all – but it was actually kind of brilliant. Not only did it make things a lot easier, it gets rid of the worries associated with the use of raw eggs.

I decided to mess around with making a mayo based Caesar dressing to our tastes, and came up with this… monstrosity.

This dressing smells TERRIBLE. It burns to eat. The lemon in it makes my tongue feel like it’s ripped to shreds halfway through.

… and it is – far and away – the BEST Caesar salad I’ve ever had in my life.

The weird thing about this recipe is that almost every rave I have about it sounds completely negative! This isn’t about “burst of flavour”, it’s more like “punch you in the face with flavour”. This recipe is definitely geared towards garlic lovers, so keep that in mind!

If you’ve never worked with anchovies before, you may have a weird idea of what to expect. Though this recipe has a lot of anchovy in it, it doesn’t taste fishy at all. Anchovy doesn’t really taste like fish, it just has a rich, salty, complex flavour that adds a ton of character to whatever you put it in. You buy them in little jars, either by the canned meats, or in the fresh fish aisle, depending on your grocery store.

This dressing whips up in just minutes, and makes a SUPER potent dressing. A little goes a long way, so use less dressing than you think you’ll need – you can always mix more in if you want to kick it up a notch or ten!

Anyway.

Making homemade croutons is a good way to accent this dressing, because who wants crappy store bought croutons when you’re serving a special dressing? Not I! So, I’m including a non-recipe recipe for my croutons at the end of the dressing recipe. It only takes about 3 minutes to prepare, and 15 or so minutes to bake – totally worth the effort!

Enjoy!

Caesar Dressing

Makes just over 1 cup of dressing

6 Anchovy fillets
5-6 Cloves garlic, pressed
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
1 tsp Grated lemon zest
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

In a small food processor or blender, combine anchovies, pressed garlic, and lemon juice, blitzing to create a smooth paste. Add zest, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce, once again blitzing until combined and smooth. Add mayo and cheese, blitz once more to combine.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Homemade Croutons

Bread of choice*
Butter or oil**
Garlic powder
Dried parsley
Salt
Pepper

Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or don’t. It’s not really needed, but makes clean up easier!)

First, cut your bread into cubes of whatever size you like, and place in a bowl that’s big enough to stir them around easily. I like to cut fairly big pieces, so that they can get toasty and crisp on the outside, and stay tender inside. Your mileage may vary!

Next, melt your butter (if using). Drizzle some butter or oil over the bread pieces, tossing well to coat. You want them lightly coated, not drowning in butter. Eyeball it – you can always add more if you feel it needs it!

Once you have the bread lightly coated, sprinkle on the remaining ingredients, to suit your tastes. Taste as you go!

Once you’re happy with the flavour, spread the bread pieces out on your baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes, stirring a few times during the baking. If you’re happy with the colour of them at 15 minutes, remove and let cool slightly before adding to your salad. If not, let them bake a little while longer, keeping an eye on them.

* While many people use stale bread, I don’t. I like soft interiors to my croutons, so I just chill a few slices for a bit to make them easier to cut nicely. If you like very crunchy croutons, use stale bread. In terms of type, I like bread with a little character – this was a flax seed bread. You can use whatever bread you like, however – even gluten-free!

** If you want to be *Extra* about it, you can use melted bacon drippings in place of butter or oil!

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