Sometimes the origin of food can be surprising. Things don’t always come from where you think they should have. Caesar salad is one of those. One of the most loved salads on the planet, this simple favorite is believed to have been created by an Italian-American restaurateur named Caesar Cardini in Tijuana, Mexico. The story has it that Cardini owed a restaurant in a popular tourist area and wanted to attract patrons during Prohibition and he put together this simple salad dish, which quickly took off in popularity. Cardini’s recipe appears to be quite close to what we know (consisting of romaine lettuce and a dressing with Parmesan, cheese, egg, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce). But Cardini’s original version was devoid of anchovies. It is believed that Cardini’s brother, Alex, added this salty ingredient–which would go on to be incorporated into the classic recipe.I love a great Caesar salad, but I always go light on that rich dressing. For this recipe, I developed something a bit more healthful, one that uses kale instead of romaine. Kale, as many know, is a popular food these days. And there is good reason. Kale is exceptionally rich in nutrients, especially in the areas of antioxidants, fiber, and beta carotene.
But let’s be honest, cooking with kale can be challenging. The stuff can be tough and the cud-like quality if not prepared right is off-putting. The main technique in this simple kale salad is using baby kale (if in a hurry), or when using regular kale, removing all large spines (something many people and restaurants do not do) and rubbing olive oil all over the leaves to marinate (or tenderize it) in advance of mixing with the dressing. This is simple to do and only involves slight additional effort, but the outcome is well worth it. I kept the dressing for this recipe traditional, why ruin a great thing. This is a lovely salad that works for a weekday dinner but is elegant enough to be served at a special holiday meal as well so file it away for Thanksgiving.
Kale Caesar Salad With Sourdough Croutons
- For the Croutons: 1 loaf sourdough bread, crust removed and torn into small pieces
- 6 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil, divided
- For the Salad: 1 large bunch curly kale, cleaned, tough stems removed, leaves torn into small 1/2-inch pieces
- For the Dressing:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 3 anchovy fillets
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Extra Virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Step 2 For the Croutons: Place the torn bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Using your hands, toss well to mix. Spread the bread out evenly on the pan. Place int he oven and bake till golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Step 3 For the Salad: In a large bowl add the kale and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Use your hands to toss well and coat the kale. Set aside.
- Step 4 For the Dressing: Add the mayonnaise, anchovies, garlic, Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and blend on hight till smooth. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Step 5 To serve: toss the kale with the dressing well to coat. Sprinkle with the toasted sourdough croutons and serve right away.