So, this year, we don’t get to gather with friends or family whee I live. My county placed new restrictions on family gatherings and have pretty much told us, they’re done.
Normally, I have a big BBQ (depending on weather) but this year, I think I will roast a ham and deliver meals to those members of our family that still eat swine, only a few. The rest, I probably will figure it out; nothing inspires me at this moment.
But, let’s talk salads. I don’t eat meat so, I do eat lots of salad, not just greens. For today’s Culinary Confinement lesson. I’m focusing on Cesare Salad–yes, that is how it is spelled and pronounced in Italian.
Romaine lettuce: We haven’t had a recall in awhile so, you should be able to find it in your store and it’s lettuce, not toilet paper.
My kids like tomatoes in their salad, which isn’t traditional, but you can add them if you want. Since they aren’t in season and our farmers markets are closed, HARD PASS. They blow this time of year.
Croutons: Make your own from leftover, crusty bread cut in cubes (toss with extra virgin olive oil, dried parsley, oregano, basil, and minsed, fresh garlic and bake until golden and crispy, about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.
Parmigiano cheese--lots of it as well as black pepper. Anchovies on top if desired.
Chop the lettuce and slice the tomatoes if you choose to add them.
We layer our salad—lettuce, tomatoes, dressing, parm, croutons–Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Remember, I don’t measure stuff; it’s all to taste and the challenge is to find the right balance. If your dressing is too vinegary, add more EEOV. If it tastes bland, more garlic, lemon, and/or vinegar.
Vinegar (I use either white balsamic or rice vinegar)
Garlic (to taste; just make sure it’s fresh–not powdered or minced from a jar)
Fresh lemon juice-a half of a fresh lemon
A dab or mustard
Dried Italian parsley
Salt and black pepper
To emulsify it, I use a small container of plain, non-fat, Greek yoghurt.
Put all the ingredients in a bowl; take a whisk, and start blending. You want a creamy dressing with no signs of olive oil pooling on the sides of the bowl. Taste your dressing and adjust seasonings to taste.
I don’t use salt that often so, if you like salty food, you may have to add more. I tend to add more garlic, lemon, or even an additional splash of vinegar because I want a bit of a bite, not too tangy, but I want those flavors to come forward.
Layer your salad as stated above and top each layer with dressing.
***Other additions include: Grilled chicken, steak, shrimp or tofu.
NOTE: I don’t recommend making the salad ahead of time because it can get soggy and that’s just wrong.. If you feel compelled to make it ahead, serve the dressing on the side. However, feel free to make the dressing even the day before. Just store it in a Mason jar in the refrigerator.
Keep in mind, the oil will solidify but, let it sit out and re-whisk it to get that creamy texture you want.
Top the final layer with parm and black pepper. If you choose to add anchovies, now is the time.
***BTW-I make all of our salad dressings from scratch. As soon as watermelon is in season, I’ll share a Greek/Cyprus grilled Halloumi cheese and watermelon salad recipe with a pomegranate molasses vinaigrette. It truly is the bomb!