Real Caesar is based on anchovies, but appeals even to people who Hate anchovies. We made a popular version (“the best!”) at Rico’s, using traditional ingredients: raw yolks and anchovy paste, garlic, olive oil. Don’t bother going for it, as they’ve taken it off the menu. But I’d like to tell you how I made it so that you can make your own.
Yield is about 1 1/2 or 2 cups of dressing; use 2 Tablespoons or more per salad.
We made anchovy puree by the tin and then used spoonfuls in each batch of dressing. It is hard to get a smooth puree from a small amount of anchovies in a large food processor, but just use what equipment you have and try to make it as smooth as you can. Adding a little water may help (although the puree does not last as long with water added). If you are using a mortar and pestle, you’ll only need to puree a few anchovies per batch of dressing. This step does smell fishy, it caused baristas to gag when they washed our Cuisinart bowl.
1 tin anchovies
2 egg yolks
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
heaping Tablespoon prepared mustard (we used the yellow stuff!)
extra virgin olive oil, as needed (1 cup?)
fresh cracked black pepper
To Make the Dressing:
-puree the anchovies in a blender or food processor, or smash them by hand using a mortar and pestle, adding a little water as needed.
-place the yolks in a small-medium mixing bowl and add a heaping Tablespoon of anchovy puree. Add the garlic, mustard, and a large pinch of black pepper. Whisk all this together, then, while whisking, gradually stream in the olive oil until the mixture is glossy and the consistency of a thinnish pudding. Whisk steadily the whole time you’re adding oil, or the mixture can separate. Add salt if needed (the anchovies are salty), and more pepper, mustard, or garlic to taste.
For the Salad:
-use plenty of dressing!
-clean, dry and chop the lettuce. Toss the lettuce with dressing and some croutons if you like them, and grated hard cheese such as parmesan (or you can top the salad with parmesan). Put extra anchovies on top of the salad if you like.
-the dressing will keep a day or two, refrigerated, if you don’t use it all at once
On the Other Hand, if you Don’t Eat Anchovies…
At Quintessence, the original raw food restaurant in the East Village, we made Raw Caesar with blended pine nuts and Himalayan pink salt. We used flax oil for the health benefits, but it also gave the dressing a fishy taste. I don’t remember the recipe, but can give some general guidelines for those who like to experiment:
-Himalayan pink salt (or your favorite salt)
-miso? I think
It was a simple dressing based on the creaminess of pine nuts and the richness of flax oil. Use plenty of salt to approximate the anchovy saltiness in real Caesar. I think a mild miso would add some of the pungency of fish, too. And garlic if you like it. Place everything in a powerful blender (we used a Vita-mix, but those are too pricey for the average home cook) and blend to a smooth creamy dressing. Adjust the seasonings to taste and add water to thin the dressing if needed (pine nuts are expensive, too, after all).
Garnish this one with crumbled Nori seaweed, or for an even saltier Caesar, Dulse strips.