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Classic Caesar Salad

Love the old-fashioned, strictly interpreted Caesar salad? Houston’s annual Caesar Salad Competition has a category for Classic Caesar Salad, and it was won last year by Bubba Butera and Frankie B. Mandola (of Damian’s Cucina Italiana), who have won the prize five times over the past 22 years. As usual, they produced a salad that was sublimely balanced, with exactly the right marriage of lemon and garlic, mustard and anchovy, Worcestershire and Parmesan.

  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 7 T. olive oil, divided
  • 4 medium garlic cloves
  • 5 large anchovies
  • 3 T. capers
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 6 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 4-5 heaping T. Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Fresh black pepper

Separate the lettuce leaves, wash well, and pat dry. Keep lettuce in a napkin (or towel) to make sure it is dry when ready to toss.  In a large wooden bowl, add about 1 tsp. olive oil. Holding a garlic clove with a fork, swirl it in the olive oil, then try to coat the wall of the wooden bowl with the olive oil and juice of the garlic clove. Next, smash the garlic clove until it is combined with the olive oil to form a smooth paste.  Add anchovies, capers, and remaining garlic cloves, mash all with a fork, and combine with the garlic-olive oil mixture until it has a smooth consistency.

Add dry mustard, wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Combine ingredients thoroughly with garlic-anchovy mixture. Add remaining olive oil and 1 egg yolk with a little bit of egg white (discard remaining egg white). Mix thoroughly until texture is creamy and smooth. Add 1 T. Parmesan cheese. Mix well.

Add dry romaine lettuce leaves, and toss until coated (there should not be any dressing left in the bowl). Sprinkle a little more Parmesan cheese over lettuce. Grind fresh black pepper over lettuce. Toss again lightly. Add croutons (recipe below). Toss only a few times, so croutons won’t get soggy.  Serve on large chilled dinner plates. Sprinkle with a little more Parmesan and ground pepper before serving. Yield: 4 dinner salads.


  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 2 c. crusty French bread cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Coarse (kosher) salt
  • Fresh black pepper

In a small bowl, mash the garlic clove with the olive oil. Lightly brush bread cubes with this mixture (add more oil if necessary), then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 350° F. until golden (about 15 minutes), turning occasionally. Set aside.

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