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05/07/2013 09:29 am ET Updated Jul 07, 2013

The Ultimate Caesar Salad

Bon Appetit

By Sue Li and Chris Morocco, Bon Appétit

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Nailing this misunderstood classic (no, we don't want grilled chicken) is all about restraint and, yes, anchovies.

1) The Dressing: A great Caesar salad gets its swagger from a great dressing. Squeamish about raw egg yolks and anchovies? Sorry. Yolks are what give richness to the emulsion, while anchovies provide a briny blast (and that whole umami thing). Here's our go-to recipe:

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Chop together six anchovy fillets packed in oil, one small garlic clove and a pinch of kosher salt. Use the side of a knife blade to mash into a paste, then scrape into a medium bowl. Whisk in two large egg yolks*, two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and 3/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Adding drop by drop to start, gradually whisk in two tablespoons olive oil, then 1/2 cup vegetable oil; whisk until dressing is thick and glossy. Whisk in three tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Can be made one day ahead.

2) The Croutons: Make your own. Tearing, not cutting, the bread ensures nooks and crannies that catch the dressing and add texture. Toss three cups of torn one inch pieces of country bread with three tablespoons of olive oil on a baking sheet; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake at 375 degrees, tossing occasionally, until golden, 10-15 minutes. If you're into anchovies (we are), throw a couple of fillets on top before serving

3) The Lettuce: Use whole leaves from three romaine hearts to feed six people. They provide the ideal mix of crispness, surface area and structure.

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4) The Cheese: Caesars crowned with a mound of grated Parmesan may look impressive, but all that clumpy cheese mutes the dressing. Instead, use a vegetable peeler to thinly shave a modest amount on top for little salty bursts.

5) The Assembly: Skip the tongs. Use your hands to gently toss the lettuce, croutons and dressing, then top off with the shaved Parm.

*Raw egg is not recommended for infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.

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