Mixed-leaf Caesar Salad
This must be one of the greatest salad recipes ever. It's traditionally made with Cos lettuce, but I like a mixture of lettuce and some crunchy rocket leaves. What it can't take is anything too soft – only the crunchiest leaves will do. The flavours are gutsy, so it's ideal for a summer lunch outside or, in small portions, for a quite aristocratic but so-simple starter.
Serves 4 as a light lunch or 6 as a starter
|1 small Cos lettuce|
|1 packet prepared Crispheart lettuce (or the heart of a Webb's Wonder lettuce)|
|1 large handful rocket leaves|
|1 x 2 oz (50 g) tin anchovy fillets, drained (keep the oil and two of the fillets for the dressing)|
|1½ oz (40 g) Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), finely grated|
|For the croutons:|
|2 oz (50 g) white bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/3 inch (8 mm) cubes|
|1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil|
|1 rounded tablespoon finely grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)|
|1 clove garlic, crushed|
|For the dressing:|
|1 large egg|
|1 clove garlic|
|juice 1 lime|
|1 heaped teaspoon mustard powder|
|½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce|
|5 fl oz (150 ml) extra virgin olive oil|
|Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).|
|Need help with conversions?|
You will also need a baking sheet.
First make the croutons: place the cubes of bread in a bowl together with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 rounded tablespoon of Parmesan plus the crushed clove of garlic. Stir and toss the bread round to get an even coating of cheese, oil and garlic, then spread the croutons out on the baking sheet and bake them on a high shelf in the oven for 10 minutes. Please put a kitchen timer on at this stage! I'm afraid I have burnt more croutons than I care to remember simply because the 10 minutes went so quickly!
When the buzzer goes, remove them from the oven and leave to cool. Meanwhile make the dressing by breaking the egg into the bowl of a food processor and adding the garlic (peeled but not crushed), the lime juice, and 2 of the anchovy fillets, the mustard powder and Worcestershire sauce. Switch on and blend everything till smooth; then, keeping the motor running, pour the olive oil and anchovy oil (which can be combined in a jug first) through the feeder funnel in a slow, steady stream.
When all the oil is in you should have a slightly thickened, emulsified sauce with the consistency of pouring cream. Taste the dressing and season with freshly milled black pepper and salt if it needs it. Now arrange the salad leaves (breaking up the larger ones as you go) in a large, roomy salad bowl. After that snip the remaining anchovies and mix to distribute them evenly among the leaves.
When you're ready to serve, pour over the dressing and toss very thoroughly to coat all the leaves. Sprinkle in 1½ oz (40 g) Parmesan, toss again and finally scatter the croutons over the salad. Then either portion it out or pass the bowl round for everyone to help themselves. Note: this recipe contains raw egg.
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