Am I the only one who used to have a false idea of the famous Caesar salad? Until very recently, trusting my restaurant experience, I assumed it was a bowl of some green leaves with obligatory croutons and chicken, dressed with an unexciting creamy sauce. Several weeks ago, thanks to ” The Road to Mexico” (Rick Stein’s new food travel series), I learnt that that the original dish contains only romaine salad and croutons (no chicken!) and, most of all, that the real protagonist is the amazing sauce and not the salad! The sauce I saw being made in the legendary Caesar’s restaurant looked amazing indeed and, most of all, completely different from what I’ve ever seen or tasted under the same name. I prepared it for the following meal and fell in love with its bold umami flavours to a point where I cannot imagine – at least for now – any different salad dressing. As you can see, I went further and have tested it also with other vegetables, such as grated celeriac which proved perfect company for this wonderful sauce; I have even forgotten about croutons…
Before I pass to the recipe I must mention the quarrel concerning the genuine Caesar sauce. Made famous in 1920’s by Caesar Cardini, an Italian restaurant owner living in Mexico (here some people say it was Caesar who invented it and many – for example the current Caesar’s Restaurant owner – that it was one of his Italian cooks…), it apparently didn’t contain any anchovies (only Worcestershire sauce). Nonetheless, since the legendary restaurant in Mexico where the sauce was invented adds anchovies, which are actually my favourite part of this sauce, I’ll never omit them. In short, if you don’t like anchovies, skip them and add more of Worcestershire sauce; if you love them, add both.
I didn’t really respect the ingredients’ amounts from the tv program, adapting them to my preferences, I also ignored the oils recommendation… so if you want to check the exact recipe presented by Rick Stein, I encourage you to buy The Road to Mexico, with recipes from the tv series.
If you don’t like the idea of this sauce, but like celeriac, I strongly advise my slim version of the famous French Celeriac Remoulade:
TIPS: If you want to keep this sauce for longer or if you cannot/don’t want to use a raw egg yolk, replace it with two tablespoons of mayonnaise. The taste will be slightly different, but the sauce will keep its creaminess and will keep for weeks in the fridge.
If you add anchovies and don’t have Worcestershire sauce, skip it, but make sure you add either of them or both. Otherwise you’ll just have a good but ordinary sauce.
Preparation: about 5 minutes
Ingredients (serves two as a side-dish of course):
about 400 ml of freshly grated raw celeriac
2-4 preserved anchovy fillets, depending on how much you love anchovies (if they were preserved in salt, wash them) or 1/2-1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1 raw egg yolk or 1 heaped tablespoon mayonnaise
1 big garlic clove, crushed
4 tablespoons olive oil
juice from half a lime (or 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons grated parmesan + some more to sprinkle just before serving
pepper, salt (though usually you don’t need salt because Worcestershire sauce and anchovies are salty enough)
Put everything in a food processor, apart from parmesan. (A baby food processor is perfect for such small amounts)
Mix until smooth. Taste and adjust flavours, adding more vinegar, oil or anchovies/Worcestershire sauce.
Add the parmesan and serve with grated celeriac (or salad of your choice) and sprinkle with more parmesan.