We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Caesar Salad With and Without the Egg

by Michelle

   The tale of two Caesar's: to add an egg, or not to add an egg, that is the question. Raw eggs spike concerns of salmonella poisoning for many people, although a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2002 reported that in the United States salmonella poising is rarely induced by eggs and that a key factor in the creation of contaminated eggs is the sanitary living conditions of the hens.
   When we buy eggs we look for suppliers whose hens are free-range, antibiotic and hormone free, with no animal byproducts in the feed. You can tell a good egg from a spoiled egg by simply immersing an uncracked egg in cold water. A fresh egg will lay on its side in the water. If the egg emits bubbles, or sits straight up, it is bad.
   At home, we freely use raw eggs in salad dressings and to make ice creams. The Caesar Vinaigrette is easy to prepare and ready within a few minutes. To make ahead and store, simply whisk the dressing in a salad bowl, chop the lettuce and place on top of the dressing, but do not toss. Store, covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve, then toss and garnish. This method also makes it easy to transport the salad to a potluck (with garnishes carried separately.)
   The Eggless Caesar Dressing ended a long search for a lower-in-fat alternative to the Caesar Vinaigrette. I tried various recipes that replaced the yolk and olive oil with reduced fat mayonnaise or other low-fat dairy products, but the dressings universally tasted flat. Roasted garlic was the answer to maintaining complex flavor and significantly reducing calories by adding less olive oil. For added happiness, we have witnessed the children in our lives go back for second helpings of this salad, not once, but on multiple occasions. Kids eating vegetables without complaining equals excellent mealtime.
   Caesar salads are typically garnished with croutons and by employing a vegetable peeler, shaved Parmesan. If you are in the mood for a change, we also like crumbled Gorgonzola and toasted walnuts. Croutons are easy to make at home with fresh or left-over sourdough or French bread. And, as seen on menus across the nation, the ever popular Caesar Salad is transformed into a main course with the addition of a protein in the form of rotisserie chicken, grilled sliced beef or chilled shrimp. 

Eggless Caesar Dressing

Roasted garlic replaces some of the oil and adds richness to this eggless dressing adapted from a recipe found at EatingWell.com.

2 large heads garlic
1/4 cup water
1 large lemon, freshly squeezed equaling 3 tablespoons (if short on juice, bridge the difference with champagne vinegar)
3 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsps parmesan, finely grated
1 Tbsp Italian parsley, minced
1-1/2 tsps Dijon mustard
1-1/2 tsps anchovy paste
1-1/2 tsps Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Keeping the head of garlic intact, remove the excess papery skin from the perimeter. Slice about 1/2 inch off the top of the garlic head. With a paring knife, cut off the tops of the rest of the cloves along the outside edge. Place the garlic on a square of aluminum foil. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons water or about one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Bring the edges of the foil together, shaped like a pyramid, and pinch to seal.

2. Roast until the cloves are very soft and slightly browned, 50 to 60 minutes. Unwrap and let cool slightly. Squeeze the cloves out of the skins into the container of a blender (or coax out with a table knife), discarding the skins.
3. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients to the blender. Blend on high for about a minute or so, pausing once to scrape down sides, until the dressing is emulsified. Transfer to jar with tightly fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Keeps well for several days. You'll have enough dressing to coat 4 hearts of Romaine. Yield: 1 cup

Caesar Vinaigrette

Quick and easy - whisk the dressing in the salad bowl.

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 high quality egg yolk
1 large lemon freshly squeezed, equaling 3 tablespoons (if short on juice, bridge the difference with champagne vinegar)
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
3 Tbsps parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. In a salad bowl, whisk all the ingredients together except the olive oil. Then, slowly drizzle olive oil while whisking continuously until dressing is emulsified.
2. To make the salad ahead, add roughly chopped heads of romaine lettuce to the bowl, but do not mix until ready to serve. Store in the refrigerator. Right before serving, toss salad and garnish with croutons and shaved parmesan.
3. You'll have enough dressing to dress 3 to 4 hearts of Romaine. Yield: About 3/4 cup

1 comment:

  1. A word about growing your own lemons. Here in California, even with my fairly shady yard where I live under a giant oak and a very old and large Gravenstein Apple tree, my Eureka Lemon thrives in a large planter that I planted it into almost ten years ago. It had a very nice crop of lemons this year which we are still using. I chose pots because I need to stay mobile, and when I move, my plants come with me (much to the moving company's chagrin). Over the years I have added a Bearss Lime, a Kaffir Lime and an improved Meyer Lemon a little over a year ago to my citrus collection. All of them grow very happily in large pots. During the winter I move them to more sheltered spots near the house, and during the summer I move them to the sunniest spots available. I love having my own home grown lemons for several months during the year, and Kaffir lime leaves whenever I want to make Tom Kha, which we did just last night. Just make sure to give your trees regular water and fertilize with an organic fertilizer, and transplant young trees every few years. The scent of the trees in bloom is a wonderful added bonus.


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