Recipe: Bottle-Free Caesar Salad

In trying to decide which day of the week I would post recipes, I thought of some silly monikers for each — à la “Food Friday” (weak), “Whet it Wednesday” (obtuse), “Tasty Tuesday” (also weak), “Mastication Monday” (yeah)… you get the idea.  I also considered a forceful, straight-up “FOOD!”  because directness is often a good approach.  For now, I haven’t decided, so I’m going to let it float for a bit.  Though admittedly, I am leaning toward Wednesdays. :)  What do you think?  Any preferences?

Anywho!  On with the “FOOD!”

When it comes to cooking, I’m pretty hands on.  I don’t generally buy things precut, pre-washed, precooked.  I like the process of preparation — *I* want to be that “pre.”  When I can, I even grow my own vegetables and bake my own bread.  I find it relaxing, and it puts me closer to my meals, helps me understand what I’m eating.   Accordingly, for things like salad dressings and pasta sauces, if I can make them and have the time, I will.

But don’t get me wrong — I’m not fanatical.  I don’t make my own yogurt.  I love Paul Newman and instant oatmeal and rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.  It’s just that sometimes, making it yourself is simply better, not to mention a whole heck of a lot more fun.  So!  With that in mind, here’s a recipe for a really awesome caesar dressing that is quick and simple.  The only downside is that I made it yesterday, and my hands still smell like garlic. :)

Caesar Salad and Grilled Garlic Toasts

Serves 4

1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head garlic
1/2 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 hearts of romaine lettuce, trimmed and quartered lengthwise (if you’re feeling fancy — just tear it if you want to ditch the knife)
1/2 cup shaved or shredded parmesan

Heat grill to medium-high.  Place 1 teaspoon of oil and all but 2 cloves of garlic on a piece of heavy duty foil and close to form a pouch.  Grill, shaking pouch occasionally, until the garlic is soft, upwards of 12 minutes.  Grill the baguette slices until brown, approximately 1 minute per side.

Finely chop the 2 remaining garlic cloves and, pressing down with the side of a knife, pulverize (a.k.a. “smoosh”) with the anchovy fillets.  Mix the garlic and anchovies with the lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a small container if saving, or in a large bowl if serving immediately.  Toss with the lettuce and sprinkle with parmesan.  Squeeze the grilled garlic cloves from their skins and serve smeared on toast (deadly good).

Note: For milder dressing, grill the entire head of the garlic and replace the raw cloves with grilled.  Personally, this fills me up on its own, but grill some chicken breasts alongside the garlic and it makes an awesome meal.  And if I’m feeling lazy, I skip the toasts and just go for the dressing.  I usually make extra dressing and save it in an air-tight container, eating it over the course of 2 or 3 days.  It gets a bit stiff when chilled, so let it come to room temperature before serving.


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