For a good salad
- 3 anchovies, packed in oil
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup light olive oil (or canola oil)
- 1 romaine lettuce (bindsla)
When the weather gets as hot as it is this week, there are not a lot of things that I’m craving to eat. I subsist primarily on cold drinks, fruit, and salads. One quickly tires of the salads available in restaurants, but I realized recently that only a couple of them in Groningen serve a Caesar salad, which is a grand shame.
It’s an excellent lunch or light supper and its imperial name should be spoken more frequently. I say this often in this column, but such a simple dish demands the best of ingredients, so no skimping on those, please.
Caesar dressing is rich, creamy, and unctuously coats the lettuce. It’s rich in umami and is the perfect foil for the freshness of the lettuce. Chop the anchovies and garlic finely on a cutting board and mash them with the flat side of your knife, with the aid of a small pinch of salt.
When they’re mostly smooth, add them to a large bowl, along with the egg yolk, mustard, and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth and VERY slowly trickle in the olive oil while whisking vigorously. You are basically making a mayonnaise laced with anchovies and garlic. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed.
You can buy these, of course, but why would you when they are so easy to make? Take a good quality loaf of crusty bread (sourdough if you can find it), and cut it in large cubes (about 2-3cm wide). Toss in some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a 220°C oven for about 15 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown, tossing once.
Putting everything together
Remove the leaves from the head of lettuce (one will feed two people), but keep the leaves whole. Wash them and dry them carefully so there is no water making the dressing runny. Place in a large bowl, season with a little salt and toss with half of the croutons, and some of the dressing; you are just looking for enough to coat the leaves, not to create a pool at the bottom of the bowl.
Arrange the leaves on two large plates, top with the remaining croutons and shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano (a vegetable peeler does a great job at this). Serve the remaining dressing in a bowl for those who want extra.
Anastasios Sarampalis is a lecturer at the Psychology Department.