One New Year’s Resolution I made back in January was something I didn’t talk much about at the time. I just did it. I tossed out all the bottles of store bought salad dressings that had been crowding out nearly one shelf of my refrigerator. Along with the vowed not to buy bottled salad dressings for at least one full year I splurged on a few good quality vinegars. Such a reliance on buying salad dressing was clearly one of my dirty little secrets. I would even “soup them up” with fresh herbs and such for company! And lets face it, none of them are all that good or made with decent ingredients and just about all of them are easily made at home in a few minute.
Check out David Lebovitz’ homage to French Vinaigrette to see what I make most nights in various forms. Another handy chef tool for home made dressings is one of these dressing carafes from Crate and Barrel or Williams Sonoma that have the recipes of several common dressings etched into the carafe. With these the unused dressing can stay in the bottle for another night, easily shaken back to life. I now have several of these in rotation. The many store purchased bottles were taking up way too much real estate in my refrigerator and frankly, I was starting to feel shame every time I saw them rattling there. So far banning them from my home has been the easiest (and tastiest) resolution to keep that I’ve ever made. Until a couple weeks ago.
Caesar Salad Dressing
The one dressing I have avoided has been Caesar. It is one of my husband’s favorites but it has been the one I am not all that keen to make — at least not in the way that I was once taught. Caesar salad was taught to me as a prepared table-side dish that is begun by mashing anchovy fillets in a large wooden bowl with a fork, then garlic is added, Worcestershire sauce, etc before whisking the oil and raw eggs — emulsifying the dressing right there in front of your guests. Only then would the romaine lettuce leaves be tossed in along with croutons. Quite a production and much more time intensive than the quick shaking of a few ingredients in a jar that I have grown accustomed to this year.
Luckily, it is one salad that Dear Husband gets his fill of during the week at one of the many regular lunch spots he frequents. The salad’s ubiquity on restaurant (and even fast food) menus is as universal as Diet Coke. Wouldn’t you know, however, that he started asking for it at home just as a the national egg recall was fully underway and even the usually undeterred food safety monitor (me) felt uneasy about using raw eggs.
As if on cue, Ina’s repeat aired where she made a mayo based version for a sandwich spread and I was able to make the dressing in just a few minutes. Anchovy paste is one of those odd ingredients people aren’t likely to have on hand but I do recommend it as you just can’t make this dressing with out it. I think its safe to say that there is no store bought version of this recipe that can hold a candle to this version so if you enjoy Caesar salad, go invest in a tube of anchovy paste. It is available at any supermarket and it will not go to waste.