“Last Year’s” Caesar Recipe
I hate having to scroll through someone’s rambling story just to get to the recipe. So I’m not going to do that to you. But because the algorithm loves a good (read long and full of keywords) story I’m adding mine at the end if you feel so inclined to join me for a stroll down memory lane.
8-12 garlic cloves, minced
2.5 large white anchovy filets (approximately 4 Tbsp)
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (adjust more or less to taste)
2 Tablespoons Wild Wing Apothecary Fire Cider
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 teaspoon salt (or more- to taste)
1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
In a blender add white anchovies, lemon juice, Fire Cider, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil, salt and pepper and blend until well combined. Add minced garlic at the end and stir to incorporate (do not “mince” garlic in blender because it will make it taste too sharp). Taste and adjust to your liking. The dressing will keep well in the fridge for about a week.
*****Walk Down Memory Lane*****
Happy New Year! My resolution is to take what served me well in 2021 and leave the rest behind. In honor of that I decided to share a favorite recipe that I’ve refined over the years. I made this for last night (as requested by my bestie of 26 years) and had it for lunch today along with all the leftover fixings from last night’s New Year’s Eve 2021 fondue and Caesar salad dinner.
Caesar salad can be amazing or god-awful (just like ranch). There are very few places I will actually order a Caesar from because mass-produced Caesar Dressing is such a letdown. Food being one of my love languages means that I get irrationally angry (or maybe it’s totally rational) when I’m anticipating deliciousness and get served mediocrity instead.
Growing up in San Francisco there were a few places that (back in the day) I could rely on for a delicious salad when I was craving Caesar: McCormick & Kuleto's in Ghirardelli Square, World Wrapps on Chestnut, and Pluto’s on Irving. They were all very different but each one delivered a unique garlicky umami punch with a twist that never came from a bottle.
McCormick & Kuleto's was the perfect upscale Caesar. You could have it plain with just a house-made crostini crouton, fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a white anchovy filet (or 2 if you asked) or you could add fresh crab, grilled salmon, prawns, bay shrimp, scallops, seared ahi, calamari, crab cakes or grilled chicken. As a side or as an entree you couldn’t go wrong with their Caesar and don’t even get me started on the beautiful views of the bay.
World Wrapps was a very popular chain the Bay Area in the 90s. They basically took delicious dishes from around the world and wrapped them in your choice of tortilla (plain, tomato, or spinach) burrito style. Some of my favorites were the Thai Chicken Wrap, the Tikka Masala Wrap, and the Chicken Caesar Wrap. The combination of a solid Caesar dressing, warm grilled chicken, crunchy croutons, crisp chilled Romain lettuce and a warm chewy tomato tortilla was heavenly and very budget friendly for a poor high school student’s wallet.
Pluto’s had a few locations in SF but the Irving Street one by my uncle’s comic book shop (Amazing Fantasy- still there and a beloved historic spot for SF natives) on Irving was my favorite. They focused on fast, real food. Their Caesar was like a pick your destiny adventure. You started off with a base of lettuce (mixed greens, arugula, Romain, kale) then went down the cook line picking out what add-ins/toppings/dressings you wanted that got added to a giant stainless steel bowl with tongs. They had gorgeous roasted veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, onions, fire-roasted red peppers, sweet potatoes etc), delicious proteins (steak, roasted turkey, grilled chicken, shrimp, and grilled portobello mushrooms), and other delicious mix-ins like avocado, corn, tomatoes, jicama, jalapenos, black beans, edamame, shredded carrots, beets, strawberries, blueberries, dried cranberries, papaya, toasted sesame seeds, bean sprouts, roasted cashews, balsamic onions, feta cheese, sweet walnuts, blue cheese crumbles, organic quinoa, cucumbers, green onion, handmade croutons, Parmesan cheese, red onion, or crispy wonton strips (think I covered all the bases). They consistently served fresh, well-made, well-seasoned, delicious food that you could feel good about eating. They also had an amazing steak sandwich on grilled sourdough with caramelized onions and a garlic aioli that I still crave when I’m in the mood for a steak sandwich.
I hope my recipe hits the spot and becomes a household favorite for you.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy and tasty New Year!