Love a great Caesar salad? Each of these salads is considered a favorite by readers who wrote in requesting the recipe from our Culinary SOS column. You decide.
American Fish's Caesar salad: Max Randall of Woodland Hills wrote that "I dined at American Fish in Las Vegas at the Aria hotel last weekend and enjoyed the best Caesar salad ever. Absolutely perfect, white anchovies with the perfect garlicky Caesar dressing. Any chance Michael Mina would give up the recipe?" This is Mina's spin on an American classic. It's really terrific, with a medley of flavors and textures that add up to a bright harmony. The white anchovies called boquerones are pickled in vinegar and can be purchased at Spanish markets such as Harbor City's La Espanola.
Nook Bistro's Caesar salad: Sarah Holbert of Venice prefers the Caesar From Nook Bistro: "I am in love with Nook Bistro's Caesar salad. I have made several attempts at home, but still fail to re-create its mustardy masterpiece. Can you use your powers of persuasion to coax out the secret?" The layers of flavors, with two kinds of mustard, roasted and fresh garlic, flash-fried capers and ciabatta croutons set this Caesar apart from other versions. Nook chef and co-owner James Richardson developed the recipe.
PizzaVino's Caesar salad with crunchy croutons: And what is a great Caesar without amazing croutons? That's what Carol Bloom of Woodland Hills wanted to know: "I'm hoping the chef at PizzaVino, a lovely little restaurant on the plaza in Sebastopol, Calif., will share his secret for the most delicious crunchy croutons I've ever tasted. It seems as if many of us 'Hail, Caesar'!" The secret to PizzaVino's croutons is focaccia, which makes the croutons extra light and crisp when toasted. Tossed with tender lettuce in a tangy Caesar dressing, this salad makes a refreshing side dish or light meal.
You can find the recipes below.
Have an SOS request? Send Culinary SOS requests to me at email@example.com or Culinary SOS, Food section, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Please include your name, phone number and city of residence.
AMERICAN FISH'S CAESAR SALAD
Total time: 1 hour
Note: Adapted from American Fish in Las Vegas. Instead of the oil-cured olives suggested below, the restaurant assembles the salad with dried black olives, drying black (Taggiasca or Kalamata) olives in a 225-degree oven for 6 to 8 hours (depending on the size), then chopping.
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
2 egg yolks
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup olive oil
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon chopped capers
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
3 salted anchovy fillets, rinsed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with the lemon. Slowly whisk in the oils, 1 teaspoon at a time, constantly whisking until the oil is emulsified to make a mayonnaise. This makes about 2 cups mayonnaise.
2. Using a mortar and pestle, or chopping and crushing with the side of a knife, combine the capers, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and anchovy fillets to form a paste.
3. Stir the purée into the mayonnaise until thoroughly combined, then stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This makes about 2 cups dressing, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the remaining dressing will keep for 2 to 3 days, covered and refrigerated.
Oil for frying
1 tablespoon drained capers
In a small saucepan, heat 1 to 2 inches of oil until a thermometer inserted reads 350 degrees. Add the capers and fry for 30 seconds. Drain on a paper towel, then season to taste with salt.
16 slices French baguette, very thinly sliced on the bias
Salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the baguette slices with the oil, then lightly sprinkle over salt and pepper. Place the slices on a baking sheet and toast until crisp and golden, about 4 minutes.
Salad and assembly
4 heads Little Gem lettuce, or 4 hearts of romaine
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 cup Caesar dressing, more as desired
16 lemon segments, from 2 lemons sliced into 8 wedges each
8 white anchovy fillets (boquerones), halved crosswise
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped oil-cured black olives
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1. Quarter each head of lettuce lengthwise, and toss the wedges with the lemon vinaigrette and chopped parsley.
2. On each of 4 plates, spoon over a light base of Caesar dressing, then top the dressing on each plate with 4 lettuce quarters.
3. Garnish each wedge with a crouton and lemon wedge, and top each crouton with half of an anchovy fillet. Sprinkle over the chopped black olives, fried capers and Parmesan cheese evenly over the 4 servings. Serve immediately.
Each serving: 534 calories; 9 grams protein; 17 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 48 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 40 mg. cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 718 mg. sodium.
PIZZAVINO'S CAESAR SALAD WITH CRUNCHY CROUTONS
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Note: Adapted from PizzaVino in Sebastopol, Calif.
5 cups fresh focaccia bread, cubed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the cubed focaccia with the olive oil until evenly coated, then toss with the salt. Spread the bread on a large, rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden and crunchy, 15 to 20 minutes.
Caesar salad dressing
2 cloves garlic
3 anchovies, or to taste
Zest and juice of ½ lemon, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil, more as desired
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Using a mortar and pestle, or in a food processor, grind the garlic and anchovy into a paste.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the garlic-anchovy paste with the lemon zest, red wine vinegar, 1 to 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce and egg. Whisk to combine, then whisk in the lemon juice.
3. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to thicken and emulsify the dressing. Season and adjust the flavoring as desired. This makes about 1 cup dressing, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The dressing will keep, covered and refrigerated, for 2 to 3 days.
Caesar salad assembly
12 cups tender romaine leaves (such as Little Gem or baby romaine), washed and drained
1/3 to ½ cup Caesar salad dressing, more as desired
2 to 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
In a large bowl, toss the romaine leaves with dressing just to coat. Plate the salad on a serving platter or on individual plates. Sprinkle the Parmigiano-Reggiano evenly over the salad, and top with the croutons. Serve immediately.
Each of 6 servings: 342 calories; 4 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 29 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 18 mg cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 337 mg sodium.
NOOK BISTRO'S 'CORNERSHOP' CAESAR
Total time: 1 hour (includes garlic roasting time)
4 large unpeeled cloves garlic
About 1 1/2 cups olive oil, divided
16 thinly sliced pieces of ciabatta
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh garlic
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/2 cup capers
4 hearts of romaine, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 cup pieces of shaved Parmesan
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the garlic cloves on a piece of foil. Pour 3 tablespoons olive oil over the cloves and tightly seal the foil. Roast until fragrant and soft, for about 30 minutes. Cool slightly, peel and reserve the oil for making the croutons.
2. Brush the reserved garlic-roasting oil on the ciabatta slices. Place the bread on a baking sheet in the oven and bake until lightly golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
3. Combine the mayonnaise, mustards, lemon juice, anchovies, roasted and fresh garlic, Worcestershire, cayenne and black pepper in a food processor. While processing, add one-fourth cup olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Finally, pulse in the grated Parmesan. Set aside.
4. In a small saucepan, pour olive oil (about 1 cup) to a depth of about 1 inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat to shimmering. Add the capers and deep-fry until they burst open, about 30 seconds. Remove the capers to paper towels to drain.
5. To assemble the salad, place the romaine in a large bowl. Add the shaved Parmesan and capers. Drizzle on the dressing and gently toss. Serve with the ciabatta croutons.
Each serving: 352 calories; 8 grams protein; 12 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 31 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 17 mg. cholesterol; 857 mg. sodium.