|Up with Romaine, the lettuce that started the Salad Revolution.
Celebrate the 80 Year Anniversary of the Reign
of Caesar ! Lettuce Entertain You
salutes the trend that made Romaine what it is today, extremely popular.
The ancient Egyptian tombs reveal paintings of lettuce with elongated and pointed leaves. Cleopatra the Queen must have used it as a diet staple to maintain her worshipped figure. She shared her secret with General Mark Anthony who brought it to great popularity in Rome. His nephew, Augustus Caesar, who later ruled the Roman Empire was said to have constructed a statue of Romaine Lettuce to honor its healing abilities after being cured of a serious illness.
But it took another 1900
years for the "Caesar salad" to evolve.
The standard "Caesar salad" legend credits the creation of the recipe to an Italian immigrant,
Cardini, who operated a restaurant in Tijuana. According to the canonical version, told by Caesar's daughter Rosa, he tossed the first Caesar's salad on the evening of July 4, 1924. It is said that on this busy weekend, Cardini was running low on food and he put together a salad for his guests from what was left over in the kitchen.
Cardini and his Tijuana restaurant circa 1920
There are also a number of non-canonical versions of the Cardini
legend. Paul Maggiora, a partner of the Cardini's, claimed to have tossed the first Caesar's salad in 1927 for American airmen from San Diego and called it "Aviator's Salad."
Alex Cardini, brother of Caesar
claimed to have developed the salad (he too allegedly called it "aviator's salad"). Alex's version became very popular, and later this salad was renamed "Caesar Salad." Caesar was said to be staunchly against the inclusion of anchovies in this mixture, contending that the Worcestershire sauce was what actually provided that faint fishy flavor.
One Livio Santini, an elderly resident of Tijuana,
claims he made the salad, from a recipe of his mother, in the kitchen of Caesar's restaurant when he was 18 years old, in 1925, and that Caesar took the recipe from him.
CAESAR SALAD RECIPE
Caesar Salad is named after it's
creator, Caesar Cardini, not Julius Caesar of the famed Roman empire.
This recipe is very close to the original version created in 1924.
Serving Size: 4
Preparation Time: 0:20
1 large head romaine lettuce
1 cup olive oil
3 cups French bread
2 large cloves garlic
8 anchovy filets
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh is best)
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse ground salt
2 egg yolks for large eggs -- at room temperature*
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese -- shredded or shaved
Trim the romaine lettuce of bruised or browned leaves, then cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Wash and drain the lettuce, pat it dry and refrigerate for 30 minutes to crisp the leaves.
To make the croutons, cut the bread into cubes, heat the 1/2 cup olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Fry the bread cubes in the oil, tossing frequently, until they're crisp and golden. Drain the croutons on a paper towel until ready to use.
Peel the garlic cloves then put in a large wooden salad bowl. Mash the cloves against the sides of the bowl with the back of a wooden spoon. Rub the pieces against the bowl until they begin to disintegrate. Remove most of the mashed garlic from the bowl and discard (oil from the garlic will remain in the bowl and flavor the salad). Add the anchovies and repeat the procedure you used with the garlic, but leave the anchovy pieces in the bowl. Now add the dry mustard,
Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, black pepper, and egg yolks and blend well. Slowly drizzle in the remaining olive oil mixing with a wire whisk until a creamy mayonnaise type dressing forms. Add the lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese and salt. Toss everything together and serve directly from the salad bowl!
*Note: The original recipe may have called for coddled whole eggs (warmed to 120F degrees, to coddle simmer in water 1 minute and cool in cold water) so they are soft and runny. Some chefs who make this salad today use the whole egg at room temperature.
**Sautéed or steamed vegetables, chicken and shrimp may be added if you like! Simply cook them in a separate pan and add them to the top of the salad. This will create more of a lunch or dinner portion entree.