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My Favorite Caesar Salad

Ingredients:

For the croutons:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups 1-inch bread cubes, cut from an Italian or French baguette
For the dressing:
1 large garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1-1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
3/4 cup olive oil
1 large head of Romaine lettuce, torn, rinsed and spun dry
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

In a large skillet heat the oil over moderate heat and add the bread cubes. Turn them constantly until they are golden and transfer to a plate. Sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper to taste.

On a cutting board mash the garlic and salt with a fork until it forms a paste, and transfer it to a salad bowl. Add the lemon juice, Worcestershire, Dijon, mayonnaise and anchovy paste, and whisk until smooth. Add the oil in a stream, whisking constantly, until the dressing is emulsified and season with salt and pepper. The dressing keeps covered and chilled for up to 4 days.

Add the lettuce and toss to coat the leaves. Add the Parmesan and croutons and toss well. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8

From Leslie Glover Pendleton

Comments:

Everyone seems to have their own version of Caesar salad these days. Restaurants top it with chicken, steak, salmon and shrimp, and fast food stores shake it in a plastic cup. With all that exposure I am still amazed that people ravenously devour my old plain Caesar. This salad made right, requires some time, as store-bought croutons just don’t do it justice. The mayonnaise adds the creaminess of a raw egg yolk, and the anchovy paste can be omitted (though I bet you’d like it if you left it in). I have a HUGE salad bowl in which I double and triple this recipe, to make sure that everyone gets their share.