In Australia you will find Caesar Salad everywhere. In Italian restaurants, cafes, family lunches and even pre-made in the supermarket. It usually includes romaine lettuce, bacon, hard boiled eggs, croutons, anchovies, parmesan and caesar dressing. I have never really liked it, or any salad with cheese and bacon.
I always assumed the name of this salad came from the Roman emperor Julius Caesar. But actually it was invented by an Italian migrant and restauranteur, Caesar Cardini. He had restaurants in both the USA and Mexico during the 1920s. According to his daughter, he was living in Tijuana, to avoid Prohibition, when he invented this dish. It was the 4th of July in 1924, when Cardini had such a busy rush in his restaurant, that it depleted many of his ingredients. So he found what ingredients he could and began making table-side salads “by the chef.” Julia Child even recounted that she too tried the Caesar Salad at Cardini restaurant, back in the 1920s.
According to Cardini’s daughter, the original recipe included whole lettuce leaves (meant to be lifted from stem and eaten with the fingers), coddled eggs, and Italian olive oil. Although she said this in the 1970s, it was in the 1950s that there were trademark brands for the dressing used for this salad, such as “Cardini’s”, “Caesar Cardini’s” and “The Original Caesar Dressing”. Since then there have been numerous different versions of the Caesar dressing, which include different ingredients, such as mustard, avocado, tomato, bacon bits, garlic cloves or anchovies. Anchovies are another essential ingredient to modern Caesar salads, that never appeared in original recipe. Rather Cardini apparently used Worcestershire sauce, since he didn’t like anchovies in salads. Today you will find this salad with the additions of chicken (popular in Australia), steak, seafood and even tortilla chips (in Mexico).
So why did I want to make this salad when I have never been a fan? Well I saw the recipe for Caesar Salad in the recipe, The Kind Diet. I liked the idea of the sourdough croutons and dressing made of almonds, dijon and tahini. Luckily I also had some romaine lettuce in the fridge. So I went up to the shops to get a few extra ingredients and a few other things I didn’t need and tried to make this salad. I also decided to add the addition of ‘Bacon’ Maple Mushrooms, to mimic bacon, that is usually used in the Caesar Salads I have always known.
It was really, really delicious! I loved the croutons, I couldn’t stop eating them. I made them with fresh sourdough bread and they were just prefect. The dressing was also amazing too. I had quite a tang to it that mimic that anchovy taste and it was made of very healthy ingredients. My dressing is probably a bit darker, since I have unhulled tahini. The mushrooms also tasted great and added more flavor to the salad. This was really filling meal that gave me heaps of energy for a hike me and Marco did after this. The dressing is also gluten free, so just use gluten free bread for the croutons.
Caesar Salad with ‘Bacon’ Maple Mushrooms (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)
3 slices of sourdough or gluten free bread
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
extra virgin olive oil,
2 tablespoons almonds (to roast/pre-blanched)
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoons hulled/unhulled tahini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon maple syrup/agave,
1 romaine or cos lettuce
vegan parmesan (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.
3. Combine rosemary, garlic powder and sea salt in a bowl. Then add the bread and drizzle with olive oil. Toss so that the spices and oil is gone through all the bread.
4. Place the bread on a tray and bake for 10-15 mins.
5. In the meantime make the dressing in a processor/blender. Place almonds, garlic, dijon mustard, tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice and process until smooth.
6. Take a bowl and combine the mushrooms, liquid smoke and maple syryp.
8. To put the salad together combine wash and roughly chopped lettuce leaves in a bowl, add mushrooms, croutons and dressing to taste (about 2 tablespoons).
*Serves 2, although the dressing is enough for 6 serves. The dressing can keep in the fridge for another serving.
Caesar Salad <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_salad>