Make a delicious Caesar salad with crisp romaine, golden sourdough croutons, plenty of shaved Parmesan cheese, and the best Caesar dressing around (245 calories or 8 WW points).
A good Caesar salad has to be one of the most satisfying salads to order at restaurants, yet I’d imagine very few of us make it at home. Maybe that’s because homemade Caesar dressing seems intimidating. And that makes sense, because while most salads rely on flavorful toppings to make them appealing, Caesar salad’s deliciousness is all in its rich, creamy Caesar dressing. But just recently, after several rounds of recipe testing, I cracked the code on the perfect Caesar dressing and it just might be the best dressing—and salad—I’ve ever made.
Homemade Caesar Dressing
If ranch dressing is the classic creamy dressing, then we should consider Caesar dressing the deluxe edition. And this recipe for Caesar dressing proves it. It’s bold and punchy, complex and umami, with the flavor of Parmesan, garlic, and lemon.
Make sure you’re using a block of Parmesan cheese and not the grated kind in the green bottle because the flavor of real Parmesan makes a dramatic difference. Find it in the cheese section of your grocery store (usually next to the deli) and look for either Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano.
To make it, mince 1 anchovy fillet and 1 garlic clove and mash them to a paste in a bowl, then add mayonnaise, lemon juice, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and freshly ground black pepper. Don’t let the anchovy scare you—it’s in there to add that salty, umami quality to the dressing, not a fishy flavor. And yes, it’s absolutely necessary. Rinse your anchovy fillet before using it to remove some of the oil and salty brine and be sure to mash it well with a fork in a bowl before introducing the other dressing ingredients (to avoid any clumps).
Croutons aren’t absolutely necessary to make a Caesar salad but they do make it that much better. They’re easy to make, too—just cut stale or day-old bread into cubes, toss with olive oil and salt, and bake until they’re golden brown and crunchy. I strongly prefer sourdough bread because it makes for the best flavor (find it in the bakery section of your grocery store), but a stale French baguette or Italian ciabatta work well too.
The rest of the salad is simple enough: chopped romaine hearts and shaved Parmesan cheese. You can add chicken to make it more of a meal and in that case, try my lemon herb marinated grilled chicken!
Caesar Salad with the Best Caesar Dressing
Caesar Dressing:makes about ¾ cup
- 1 anchovy fillet, rinsed and minced to paste
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups sourdough* bread cubes ½-inch size cubes
- 1 tbsp plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oi
- 1 ¼ tsp teaspoon table salt
- 3 romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
- ⅓ c shaved Parmesan cheese (for serving)
- For the croutons: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scatter bread cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with the oil, and toss well to coat the cubes in oil. Spread them out in an even layer and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes, stirring halfway.
- Let them cool on the baking sheet to room temperature. (Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours.)
- For the dressing: Rinse the anchovy fillet and add it to a medium bowl. Using a fork, mash the fillet into a paste.
- Add the garlic and mash once more, to break down the garlic. Whisk in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, and Worcestershire until combined. Continue to whisk while you drizzle in the olive oil.
- Add the Parmesan and pepper and stir until smooth. Add the romaine and toss to coat. Serve with the croutons and shaved Parmesan.
135 calories, 15g fat, 3g sat fat, 6mg cholesterol, 162mg sodium, 1g carbs, 0g fiber, 1g protein *If you can't find sourdough nearby, use a baguette or ciabatta