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Recipe of the Week: Caesar Salad with Focaccia Croutons


PHOTO PROVIDED Chef Loretta Paganini

One of America’s favorite salads was first created in 1924 in Tijuana, Mexico, by Italian Chef Caesar Cardini. Caesar salad is a delicious blend of many flavors that tantalize and refresh the palate. Traditionally made with Romaine lettuce tossed with a creamy garlic lemon vinaigrette, grated Parmesan cheese, croutons, coddle eggs and anchovies, I like to serve it with Italian pickled white anchovies instead of the traditional salty ones, shaved Parmesan cheese and fresh focaccia croutons. Serves eight. (Chef tip: For best results, remove the tough white stem and outer leaves from the romaine lettuce, wash under cold water and dry well in a salad spinner.)

2 heads romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried and broken into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup focaccia bread croutons, 1/2 inch cubes

1/4 cup freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shaved

8 white anchovies (optional)

Roasted garlic dressing:

4 anchovy fillets (may be soaked in milk to reduce saltiness)

6 cloves of garlic, roasted in the oven until soft

2 large egg yolks, soft boiled for five minutes in water

1/2 lemon, juice only

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil and vegetable oil blend

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the dressing by processing together the anchovies, egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard and roasted garlic. With the machine running slowly, drizzle the olive oil. Remove from the processor and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place romaine in a salad bowl. Add croutons and toss with prepared dressing. Top each salad with cheese and anchovies, if desired.