The tuna industry will tell you that tuna salad is America’s favorite salad. I even found a coleslaw blog, also “America’s favorite salad”. The point is, we like our salads. Chef, 3-bean, jello (if you want to go way back), potato salads…the list goes on. But for my money, all hail caesar.
Caesar salad is widely held to be the creation of Italian restauranteur Caesar Cardini, who lived in my home town of San Diego. Like so many other well-loved creations, this salad is thought to be the result of that old adage “necessity is the mother of invention”. Apparently, in 1924, when an onslaught of customers depleted his pantry, Mr. Cardini came up his recipe on the fly, serving it table-side with much flair.
The dressing for this dish has morphed along the decades. The original included Worcestershire sauce (which has a small amount of anchovy in it), to anyone daring enough to serve whole anchovies on top. I like the middle road – anchovy paste – all the punch and none of the hair. Traditionally served with croutons, I like to top this salad with chunks of grilled chicken. If you must have something crunchy, drop in a handful of pistachios. But whatever you do, don’t forget the anchovy paste in the dressing – it’s delicious. I swear.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hr 20 minutes (includes marinating time)
Yield: 4 main course salads
Special equipment: grill pan or outdoor grill
4 boneless chicken breasts or 6 thighs
1/2 c. lemon juice (juice of about 2 lemons)
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
8 c. romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 c. caesar dressing
4 lemon wedges for garnish
- Mix lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in shallow dish. Place chicken pieces into marinade for at least an hour and up to 4.
- Grill chicken about 7 minutes per side over hot grill.
- While chicken is grilling, mix salad dressing and set aside.
- Remove chicken and let rest for 5–10 minutes and then cut on diagonal.
- Mix greens with dressing and separate onto four plates. Arrange chicken on top, douse with a bit more dressing and serve with a lemon wedge.