Like any famous dish, the origins of the Caesar salad are somewhat disputed. But it’s generally agreed that the first Caesar Salads were served in…Mexico!
Two Italian immigrant brothers, Caesear and Alex Cardini (a.k.a. Cesare and Alessandro), lived in San Diego in the 1920s. Prohibition was in effect, so they opened a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico to capitalize on the business boom in this growing party town. Their restaurant was frequented by the Hollywood elite who would escape to prohibition-free Mexico to drink and gamble. The original Caesar salad was prepared tableside, lending an element of theatricality that helped launch the dish into culinary immortality.
The original Caesar salad was served slightly differently than the version you usually see today. Start with whole romaine lettuce leaves in a chilled serving bowl. Add the dressing ingredients: coddled eggs with the yolks still raw, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss vigorously to emulsify the dressing and coat the lettuce. Top with baguette slices fried to a crisp in garlic-infused olive oil, and eat the whole thing with your hands!
Modern versions occasionally include minced anchovies, the romaine is usually chopped, and the raw egg yolks tend to be replaced with something else that mimics the creamy texture (although you should try it if you can find reputable eggs!).
We love to make a simple vinaigrette inspired by the original flavors of the Caesar salad, but with fewer calories and less fuss. Combine 4 tablespoons of Garlic Infused Olive Oil, 2 tablespoons of Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar, 2 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, a few cracks of fresh black pepper, and a pinch of sea salt to a clean jar. Seal and shake vigorously to emulsify. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and toss with romaine lettuce.
For a more authentic experience, slice a baguette and brush both sides lightly with Garlic Infused Olive Oil. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for about 8 minutes, turning once. Serve with the greens for a heartier version.
The Olive Scene also carries a line of Caesar salad serving bowls and a variety of salad tongs to complete the experience, so stop by one of our stores to pick up everything you need for a healthier Caesar salad!