This is another highly requested dinner in our house and one I like to mix and match to the season. At the moment I am adding asparagus and avocado while, in summer, I will replace the asparagus with cucumber.
My son calls it the lettuce dinner with bread squares and ‘that bacon’ sauce. Yep, the dressing has bacon in it. This is not my own original idea but one I collected about 20 years ago from my first head chef. If I was making the caesar dressing, he would have a taste test, then add a hefty handful of crispy bacon. Added to an ingredient list of already robust flavours, this is an umami bomb.
I am beginning to think my son has a rather refined taste for a seven-year-old.
SPRING CAESAR SALAD WITH GARLIC CROUTONS
- 1 cos lettuce, washed and leaves separated
- A bunch of asparagus, steamed
- 4 eggs - medium-boiled and peeled
- 8 rashers of free-range streaky bacon, fried and roughly chopped
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 8 or more anchovies - optional
- Grated parmesan to serve
Garlic wholegrain croutons
- 6 slices "toast slice" wholegrain bread
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- A small knob of butter, about 15g – optional
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
Prepare the salad ingredients: wash the lettuce, steam the asparagus until just tender, boil the eggs, fry the bacon until crispy and roughly chop, and slice the avocado.
The salad components can be arranged on the table in separate bowls so each person can construct their own salad, or combined in a large salad bowl and draped with anchovies (if enjoyed) with the dressing (see recipe below), croutons and grated parmesan on the side.
To make the croutons, cut the bread into 1cm cubes. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a moderate heat. Tip: I use the bacon frying pan to utilise the bacon fat (omit the butter, if you do this).
Add the olive oil, and butter if using and, once melted, add the garlic and bread cubes. Turn up the heat and cook quickly, tossing the bread until golden and crispy. Tip into a serving bowl to cool a little.
WHOLE-EGG CAESAR DRESSING (or 'That Bacon' Sauce)
- 1 medium free-range egg, size 6, or 2 egg yolks if preferred
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 anchovy fillets - optional, mixed into the dressing they can be barely detected
- 1 rasher of crispy fried streaky bacon
- Juice of half a lemon, about 3 tbsp
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- A splash of Worcestershire sauce
- A handful of grated parmesan, about 30g
- A generous twist of black pepper
- About 150ml extra virgin olive oil
Place the egg, garlic, anchovies (if using), crispy bacon, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, parmesan and cracked pepper into a blender and blitz into a rough paste.
With the engine running slowly pour in the olive oil until the dressing is creamy and thick. Check the taste, adding extra lemon juice if needed. Scoop into a serving bowl.
There will likely be leftover dressing. Store this in a sealed jar in the fridge and use within one week. It is insanely good with boiled new potatoes.
*Recipe first published 20th November 2019 on Stuff.co.nz.
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