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Caesar salad from scratch vs. premade dressings

I made a from scratch caesar salad on NYE. The general consensus was it had too much lemon, probably just needed an adjustment in the recipe used. Other than that I thought it was fine. It was a slightly creamy more of a vinaigrette type dressing. The others eating thought it lacked a more mayonnaise consistency and should have been sweeter.

I'm not sure if this comes from people being so exposed to bottled caesar dressing or if the one I used actually was not turning out right. I have had caesar salad at various restaurants that was not the thick mayo type but have had the thick mayo type dressing at restaurants I would have thought would not use premade dressing. So what consistency and flavor is the true one?

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  1. The absolute best caesar dressing I ever made came from the mortons steakhouse cookbook. It's rather tedious to make , and the recipe makes 3 cups so I only do it once in a while. The consistancy is certainly not thick like mayo but I would consider it creamy style. Will be happy to post recipe if you're interested. Need to go fin the cookbook first!

    1 Reply
    1. re: juli730

      I would love to have the recipe, if you manage to track down your cookbook!

    2. Caesar Salad

      In a large bowl (it doesn't have to be a wooden bowl) smash three cloves of garlic (or use garlic press). Add a teaspoon of white vinegar and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, a scant teaspoon of worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon Colman's dried mustard or scant tsp. prepared dijon mustard, juice of half a lemon (and some of the zest if you're so inclined) and a half teaspoon of Roland anchovy paste. Start whisking.

      Add to the bowl a whole egg and two additional egg yolks -- people who're squeamish about using raw eggs can use pasteurized eggs, if they insist. I live daringly.

      Whisk the mixture like crazy and start adding olive oil -- at first a drop at a time -- until the dressing becomes creamy and substantial. This dressing can take up to 1 1/2 cups of olive oil. NOTE: I select an extra-virgin olive oil for this that has a very pronounced flavor. I find that works best.

      Grind pepper into the dressing and check for salt.

      Add romaine lettuce that's been washed, spun dry, chopped and brought to room temperature. Shred Asiago cheese all over the salad and add anchovy fillets to garnish. Serve at once.

      To the OP: part of the Caesar salad "experience" is making the dressing fresh, in front of one's guests. Bottled dressing can't come anywhere near the zip of the fresh garlic and the smoothness of the eggs.

      15 Replies
      1. re: shaogo

        Thank you for posting this. I've always wanted to make Caesar at home. We've got McCormick ground mustard on hand---is that acceptable? Also some Maille tarragon mustard. Coleman's is a bit tougher to find bere.

        1. re: ChristinaMason

          The McCormick will do just fine, absent Coleman's. I wouldn't use tarragon-flavored mustard unless you *really* like the taste of tarragon. Come to think of it, the anise-like taste of tarragon might be a nice change in a Caesar.

        2. re: shaogo

          This may explain some of the consistency difference. The recipe I used called for one egg. The two additional egg yolks would certainly change the over all consistency.

          1. re: blackpointyboots

            Careful there blackpointyboots.

            Most typical Cesar salad dressings call for a ratio of 1/2 cup of EVOO to 1 egg yolk.

            shaogo's recipe up above uses 1.5 cups of EVOO, which is why it uses 3 egg yolks.

          2. re: shaogo

            That sounds great. My wife makes the same recipe, and it is a fav. Sometimes she also adds a dash of tabasco. This dressing with out the anchovie is never the same. You need the anchovie for the true taste.

            1. re: normalheightsfoodie

              There is such a thing as too much anchovy. I had Caesar salad dressing today at a place called Vapiano, and it was WAY too fishy. Gross.

              Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the original Caesar dressing call only for Worcestershire sauce (which does contain anchovy) but not anchovy separately?

              1. re: ChristinaMason

                Too much of anything is bad, you need to find the ballance of anchovie.

                1. re: ChristinaMason

                  Insofar as it is possible to determine the "original" you are correct. Caesar Cardini is usually credited with it...once upon a time, I hear, the leaves were left whole and cover with the dressing. Julia Child's version, which she said she obtained from Cardini's daughter, is identical to my father's, which he got from the old New York World-Telegram& Sun. Why anyone would bother with a bottled dressing when the Real Thing is so simply escapes me.The only time involved is in washing/drying the romaine and in making croutons, which we always did in a skillet with some garlic added to the frying oil. Thenceforth is is basic. One head romaine, torn in pieces. Add oil and toss. Add lemon and toss (ration is 3 parts oil to one part lemon--the amounts vary according to lemon strength, size of romaine...you eyeball it. Toss after addidng lemon. Add one well beaten large whole egg. Toss. Add salt, toss. Add pepper toss, add Lea & Perrins--perhaps a tablespoon, maybe less. Toss. Add parmesan..toss. Finish with croutons. Et voila.

                  No anchovies. Love them as I do, it is not a Real Caesar if they are added

                  1. re: hazelhurst

                    I like the Romaine left whole or halved lengthwise and eat with fingers.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Yup, I've heard that is the original..I never have done it..sort of seems like it woujld drip all over but I guess you've got the coordination. Incidentally, I saw in the paper last week something about a Tijuana food empire that bought Caesar's original joint and is apparently treating it with respect.

                      Love the airdale..I've had several and think they are The Best Dogs Ever..but all dog lovers say that about their own.

                      1. re: hazelhurst

                        Rescued her two years ago. Sweetest dog we've ever had.

                        No one's ever accused me of being overly coordinated but I like it anyway :) Nice to hear SOME good news coming out of Tijuana.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Ah! dog recue! you're doing the Lord's work..may blessing be showered on you and yours. I trust the dog is a discriminating eater...

                          1. re: hazelhurst

                            So far the only thing she's turned her nose up at was lettuce. Or rather let it fall unceremoniously from her mouth. Sticks of butter aren't safe :)

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Even if covered with the Caesar salad dressing?

                              I had a cat once who ate artichokes..nibbled the end if a leaf fell on the floor.

            2. If you have the old Joy of Cooking, their recipe is fantastic. Not at all the thick mayo type and better than any restaurant or bottled Caesar dressing I've ever had.

              6 Replies
              1. re: pasuga

                so strange - I have the 1973 edition and there is no recipe in there for Caesar dressing! :(

                I guess I will use emilief's Fig dressing for tonight and try that.

                1. re: smilingal

                  My Joy is 75 and shows 64 as the previous copyright, you probably have a later printing of that version. It is p96 in my copy (I know that one by heart :). Here is a link to an approximate transcription http://answers.yahoo.com/question/ind...

                  I use a little less salt and put it with anchovies in the bottom of the bowl (wooden) and mash with forks before adding anything else.. You can use anchovy past if need be.

                  1. re: travelerjjm

                    thanks so much - I had seen that when I googled it - and Thanks too, for it made me go back a third time to my book - and I found it! I had only looked under dressings and as it directed - sauces - but hadn't looked under salads! It just didn't make sense to me why it wouldn't have been in my book. Mine is from '73 with also 64 as the last previous one - mine is the first paperback edition - and for WIW - the recipe appears on pg 80.

                    I will look forward to trying this the next time - I have decided to make the Fig recipe so that I can make it at home shortly and then bring it, along with the salad, to my daughter's house this evening.

                    I really appreciate your help!

                    And while we're on the topic - do you make your own croutons - bake or fry? I just made some chunky ones out of delicious french bread this past weekend as a garnish for pea soup - and I baked them. They went as soon as people noticed them so I am going to make some more today for the salad. I am thinking, why mess with success, but just wondering what you do?

                    1. re: smilingal

                      Glad to be of help!

                      I make 'em now. I use French bread or whatever boule I have most recently made from ABin5. I saute them in olive oil until light brown and slightly crispy outside and then dry them a bit on a sheet pan in the oven ( I tried doing it in the cast iron pan I used for the saute, but there was too much moisture in the pan and they were not far enough apart to dry gently). Plus the cast iron pan is too small -- I make a few cups at a time.

                      1. re: travelerjjm

                        your post had me google ABin5 as I was not familiar with it - so - is this a "bible" like book that you would recommend? I don't have a bread book as yet, and in truth, find it intimidating on the attempts that I have had in the past - especially for pizza dough.

                        1. re: smilingal

                          Yes I recommend it. Lots of bread recipes and variations. Check out their site at http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/ They have some of the recipes there, too. You can also find the "basic recipe" and videos about it there and elsewhere on the web.

                          Their pizza and flatbread book is due out soon http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/201...

                          There are pizza dough recipes in the original book, too.

              2. My classic Better Homes & Gardens cookbook calls for the use of a "coddled" egg. Put water a few inches deep into a sauce pan and bring to a rapid boil. Remove from heat and place a room temperature egg (still in the shell) into the water for just 60 seconds, then remove. Crack the egg into the bowl and continue.

                Also, don't forget the croutons!! Homemade, of course. Don't add the croutons to the salad too early before serving, or they will get soggy. If the salad is being served on a buffet or at a pot luck, it is best to provide the coutons on the side and let each person add his/her own.

                It really irks me when a restaurant tries to pass off creamy Italian dressing as Caesar! Just because a salad has romaine lettuce, coutons and and parmesan cheese does NOT make it a Caesar salad!

                3 Replies
                  1. re: DigitalVelvet

                    Coddled egg is tradition. Raw egg is not. Coddling the egg really improves the texture of the dressing.

                    1. re: JudiAU

                      That's odd..I was brought up on exactly the reverse....in NYC and elsewhere in the 1960's, coddled was used if you wanted that texture change or if the eggs' freshness wqas questionable. this never made sense to me becuase it seemed to me that a "dangerous" egg would not be improved by coddling..you;d have to hard boil it (not even soft cook) and even then who'd want it?

                      I always go with the raw egg

                  2. This maybe heresay but I make my dressing with canola oil--I love the clear taste of lemon to shine through & I find with evoo, I mostly taste the oil. I also add a shake of cayenne pepper. I make it in the blender & use fresh grated pecorino romano (for my lactose intolerant friends). I'd say just play with it unitl you get it to your taste--some like more lemon --some more garlic. Who cares if it is authentic as long as you like it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sparkareno

                      You could try half olive and half canola---I sometimes do this with homemade mayo. Gives a nice evoo flavor while letting other voices be heard as well. Or play around with it until you get a proportion to your liking, maybe 75% canola and 25% evoo.

                    2. If your company wants more mayo and more sweet in their Caesar... you need new friends. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

                      Fresh made Caesar will definitely be more piquant - with lots of raw garlic and anchovy kick - than anything you get from a bottle. If the lemon overpowers those flavors, definitely reduce the lemon. You can develop more of an aoli emulsion if you want that by paying close attention to wisking the egg with the oil. I suppose that's where the mayo comments come in. I wisk just enough to develop the anchovy and garlc flavors and don't care much about how emulsified it gets. That takes care of itself.

                      1. Where did you get your recipe from? I think you are right that what is purchased in stores doesn't much resemble the homemade version, which tends to be thinner, less white, more lemony, as you say. At least, this has been my experience with bottled Caesar dressings. I am more used to homemade versions, though there are many variations, so don't much care for the premade ones at the store. I would say that the store-bought options are way too mayonnaise-y and cheesy, the latter seems to be the predominant flavour. And not in a good way.

                        And, with respect to the sweeter, that has to be because of how much sugar is added to mot bottled dressings. That said, bottled Caesar salad dressing is one dressing that tends to have less sugar than the others, or even no sugar at all. It was never meant to be sweet, but your friends have accustomed themselves to sweet salads, as a result of relying on store-bought salad dressings.

                        1. I make a Ceasar Salad dressing from the Fig's Cookbook (Todd English).It is made in the food processor with canola oil,lemon juice, dijon mustard, anchovies, parmesan. No egg. I used to make a classic Ceasar with egg but this one is so delicious and can be made ahead. Those who dislike anchovies have no idea they are in this dressing. If anyone wants it I will post.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: emilief

                            Emilief, please do supply us with the recipe. (Please remember to paraphrase to avoid copyright problems.)

                            As for me, I made either the Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook's version of Caesar salad dressing. (I can't remember which.) Both of my versions of these cookbooks come from the 1930s or 1940s, so the recipe may be different today. It called for no vinegar, some lemon juice and a lot of oil and raw egg yolk or a coddled egg. I was amazed at how much better it tasted than the commercial versions.

                            1. re: gfr1111

                              Will do tomorrow. Sorry for the delay but very busy. Emilie

                              1. re: gfr1111

                                Fig's Ceasar Salad Dressing

                                All of the ingredients should be ice cold to prevent them from separating.
                                3 cloves garlic
                                3 anchovy fillets
                                1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, chilled
                                1 tsp dijon mustard
                                1 tsp dry mustard
                                6 tbsp freshly grated parmesan, chilled
                                1 - 1/4 cups canola or other vegetable oil, chilled
                                1/2 tsp kosher salt
                                1/4 tsp black pepper

                                Put garlic and anchovies in blender or food processor, with steel blade and pulse until they are minced. Add in mustard and lemon juice and pulse until all are combined. Turn on machine and while running, gradually add the oil, cheese, salt and pepper.
                                You can serve this right away or cover and it will keep for 3 days.
                                This is so good!! Also, not alot of dishes to clean and eggless.

                                1. re: emilief

                                  Thanks for the recipe. It looks delicious.

                            2. The Joy of Cooking has a wonderful recipe for Caesar. You can find it on the web. It has anchovy, red wine vinegar (which I love in a Caesar dressing) lemon, etc.

                              And I made Julia Child's over the holidays, which she swears is the original. Interestingly, it has no garlic, save with the croutons, and no anchovy. It was wonderful, though slightly different than what I am used to. I did coddle the egg but am not sure I saw much of a difference than when I use raw. With Julia's, you do it in steps, tossing the lettuce every time you add an ingredient.


                              1. I must say that when I use a commercial Caesar dressing, the one I like best is Cardini's, to which I add garlic run through a garlic press, Lea and Perrins worcestershire sauce, and about half the anchovies and half the oil from a can of King Oscar or Vigo (a local Florida brand) flat anchovies. I mix all of this up until the anchovies disappear into the sauce. My anchovie-hating friends love the dressing and I never tell them about the anchovies.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: gfr1111

                                  Try Cento anchovy fillets. Superb.

                                  1. re: shaogo

                                    Cento are my go-to anchovy fillets. I try to get them in the jar; opening the flat cans for me always results in fishy oil on shirt, which my cats love.^<..>^
                                    Other than that, I've always made Caesar dressing, based on the Joy of Cooking recipe. Believe it or not, I've never tasted a commercial Caesar; am I deprived?

                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                      No, you aren't deprived in the least. You're simply saved from tasting one of the most truly weird adaptations of a classic recipe to mass-marketing tastes. I've never had one that even featured any of the classic notes. They aren't garlicky; they don't have any discernible citrus; there's no texture.

                                      They taste OK -- but they're nothing like a Caesar salad. The one that comes with the big chicken salad at the Costco snack bar is pretty good, but it's just a slightly pungent creamy dressing, more akin to ranch than a Caesar.

                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                        Bushwickgirl, as Lee Marvin's character said in "Paint Your Wagon," "I admire your pioneer spirit." I am sure the homemade dressing is always better and sometimes I think that all the doctoring I do to the commercial dressing is silly. I should just make it from scratch, like you do. You've inspired me to make a batch from scratch this weekend.

                                        1. re: gfr1111

                                          Thanks, love that film, Lee Marvin singing...
                                          Enjoy your Caesar!

                                  2. Re: Bottled

                                    Our house favorite is Girards--our favorite for a quick lunch. Exponentially outshines any bottled Caesar I've tasted.

                                    1. One way to not have to worry about the salmonella from chicken eggs is to use quail eggs. Of course you have to use more since they are so small, but because the quail have such a high body temperature the eggs do not have salmonella, they also have hardly any cholesterol. 0.8 mg per 10 eggs or something like that. They taste great too....

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: suziezim

                                        Quail egg Caesar? First restaurant to offer this will have my business for a long time. Must be delicious!

                                        1. re: JeremyEG

                                          Im going to try this recipe with the quail eggs tomorrow. Ill let you know

                                          1. re: suziezim

                                            Thanks. Looking forward to reading about it!

                                          2. re: JeremyEG

                                            Imade the Caesar with the Quail eggs that night and it was really good. I used 4 whole quail eggs and the dressing turned out to be really creamy without being heavy. I will keep tweaking it until it is just the way I like it and it will be winner. I added a bit of sugar because I like a touch of sweet rather than tart in my dressings and yum.

                                        2. I prefer to make Caesar dressing with egg and I think the quality of the egg is especially important. If anyone has access to very fresh eggs from a farmers market, try making your dressing with them. The dressing seems to be fuller flavored and I like that because I think it balances the anchovies, garlic and lemons flavors really well.

                                          Farmers Market Caesar Dressing
                                          Crush a clove of garlic and mince 2 anchovy fillets and put in wooden bowl
                                          Add an egg and beat together
                                          Squeeze the juice from 1 lemon
                                          Whisk lemon juice into egg mixture
                                          Add 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper and 3 tablespoons of grated fresh parmesan
                                          Whisk in around 1/4 cup of olive oil and season with salt to taste

                                          A friend of mine also shows off fresh eggs by making the dressing without any egg at all and then serving then serves the salad with a poached egg on top. I was very excited to have croutons to soak up the egg yolk!


                                          1. Real caesar dressing is barely related to the gross swill that is bottled dressing. Caesar dressing should not have a "ranch/creamy" mouthful. It should be emulsified, yes, but not thick and creamy.

                                            If you want that mouthfeel you can make fully suspend the oil in the egg (like making mayonnaise) but you have not made a caesar dressing, you've made a garlic dressing flavored with anchovy.

                                            I am not immune to tinkering with the formula if I don't have pristine eggs, but my resulting dressing isn't a Caesar.

                                            Wash and carefully dry the inner leaves of two heads of romaine. Store in the refrigerate to keep crisp.
                                            Mince a large fat and juicy clove of garlic (or 2 smallish) with 4 anchovy fillets and some salt. Put in bowl.
                                            Add the juice of half a lemon and a dash of highest quality red wine vinegar (I use 0) and a dash of Worcestershire sauce and some freshly crushed pepper.
                                            Allow dressing to sit long enough that the salt dissolves.
                                            Grate or shave parmesan cheese. I prefer it shaved.
                                            Coddle egg. Wisk in egg with olive oil needed, taste, usually around 3 cup.
                                            Reserve a bit of the dressing on the side. Toss the rest with romaine, croutons of choice, and cheese. Taste. Add reserved dressing if needed. I like a slightly “more dressed” salad but not overdressed.

                                            1. Cook's Illustrated did an "ultimate caesar salad.' I made it for a dinner party, and it was magnificent. One of my friends got freaked out when he saw me pulling anchovies out of the tin, but got over it when he tasted the dressing.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: LaureltQ

                                                I always prep the anchovies for Caesar and pasta sauces out of site of my pickier guests. Certainly there are never complaints about the flavor!

                                                1. re: JeremyEG

                                                  Whenever we are in the mood for Caesar, we always make it from Alton's recipe.
                                                  It is also one where you add ingredients as you go.
                                                  Always turns out delicious.

                                                  1. re: aurora50

                                                    You can definitely get that "mayonnaisey" consistency with home made dressings. You basically just make mayonnaise (Egg yolk, vinegar, dijon, oil drizzled in while agitating) but flavor it with the other ingredients that make it caesar (anchovy, parm, lemon, wooshushush) .

                                                    I find that a cuisinart is capable of producing a perfect caesar dressing, complete with thick, rich mayo-like texture.

                                                    1. re: nihongojoe

                                                      nihongojoe - truly laughing out loud! - I couldn't figure out 'wooshushush" - until I said it out loud! Very cute! and it is so funny how that word gives so many different challenges to so many people offering so many different pronunciations!