Salty anchovies, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, spicy garlic, and grated Parmigiana Romano cheese are the traditional flavors that blend together to create the perfect Umami explosion for this delicious, easy to prepare Kale & Romaine Caesar salad with Homemade Croutons.
Traditional Caesar Salad Dressing
I am a traditionalist when it comes to Caesar salad. Yes, that means I use anchovies in my recipe. Anchovies are an essential ingredient if making a traditional recipe. They add that perfect umami saltiness and are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Modern versions eliminate anchovies and raw eggs and in my opinion, taste more like a glorified Ranch rather than a Caesar. They lack umph!
The first time I ever encountered (and yes, I mean encountered) Caesar salad was at an old French restaurant in downtown Santa Rosa, California called Hotel La Rose. As a child, I will never forget them bringing out a rolling cart with all the ingredients for a Classic Caesar salad and preparing it table side. As I watched carefully, each addition was added to the mortar and pestle and ground into a paste. The olive oil was drizzled in and then everything was tossed together with golden, seasoned croutons. There is a reason Caesar is the second most popular salad at restaurants after the garden or house salad. It is delicious.
EAT YOUR GREENS
I have to say, kale is one of my favorite green veggies. Adding it to a Caesar salad is a no-brainer for me because it is hardy and holds up nicely to a heavy dressing. Not only is kale amazing in this Kale Caesar but I love it in my Kale and Brussels sprouts Salad with toasted almonds as well as Potato, Sausage, & Kale Soup. Delish!
Truthfully, the best part of having a love affair with greens is that greens love you back. Greens are loaded with high levels of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, vitamins A & E, and folate (a B vitamin that promotes heart health and healthy pregnancy). Greens are body and blood cleansers that help flush out toxins and strengthen against free radicals. Translated: eat your greens. Mama was right!
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FARM
I have heard of bouquets of carrots instead of flowers, but kale? Now, don’t get me wrong, if all you have access to in your area are veggies from the grocery store, then by all means eat them. But if for some miraculous chance you live near a farm or CSA, purchasing your greens locally will give you the most health benefits and flavor as well as support your local farm with every bite. We just happen to live near the BEST family-owned farm ever. The Tolley Family at Red Thread Farm provides beautiful vegetables for locals each week as well as products from local artisans such as sourdough bread, grass-fed meat, and cheese. Undoubtedly, they feature the most beautiful kale I have ever seen. Literally, it looks like a kale bouquet and tastes…AMAZING!
I know. I know. You can easily buy croutons pre-made, but preparing them at home is easy peasy. Additionally, you have control over what goes into these babies. Unfortunately, you may have to guard against little crouton thieves who may nail them before they make it to your salad. But that’s part of the fun, right?
Croutons are a great recipe to prepare if you have stale bread lying around but also good if you just happen to snag a few baguettes at Costco for the purpose of making croutons. Baguettes are easy to work with. Simply, quarter and slice into cubes. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp. granulated garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt, fresh ground pepper, and 1 T fresh chopped parsley (or 1 tsp. dried parsley or Italian seasoning). You know me. I don’t typically measure things like this. Rather, I eyeball it and taste it to determine my amounts.
Lay it on a parchment paper lined sheet pan and bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 375° F. Give it a good stir and then add it back to the oven for an additional 10 minutes until golden and slightly crispy. Croutons will harden as they cool. Cool before tossing in the salad. Try not to snag too many and fill up on croutons before your dinner. Ya, you know who you are.
- 1 jar or tin of anchovies, drained (8-10) or if you are a bit reserved, you can cut that in half. I prefer Crown Prince brand found in most grocery stores.
- 1 raw egg yolk (make sure and use eggs that you trust. My favorite is Vital Pastures Organic free-range eggs),
- 1-2 fresh garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmigiana Romano cheese (I purchase from Costco and then use a microplane to grate into soft threads).
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp each sea salt and fresh ground pepper (before adding the salt, check saltiness level depending on how many anchovies are added).
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 head Romaine lettuce, cleaned and torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 bouquet kale, cleaned and torn into bite-sized pieces
- Seasoned croutons (see recipe above)
- In a 2-cup glass measurer (Pyrex brand), small bowl, or wide mouth Ball jar, add in all ingredients except the olive oil.
- Using a hand immersion blender, blend ingredients. A blender works fine too. I just prefer the control of the hand blender.
- Slowly, add in the oil while blending.
- Toss with kale, Romaine lettuce, and seasoned croutons.
- Sprinkle with fresh grated Parmigiana Romano cheese and fresh ground black pepper and serve right away.
If you are uncomfortable with using raw egg yolks because of salmonella issues, feel free to substitute the egg with 1 T mayo instead.