Feb 27, 2019

Table-side Caesar Salad with Chili Oil Croutons

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
This variation on the classic Caesar salad made in the bowl.with a simple garlic anchovy dressing tossed with romaine lettuce topped with Parmesan cheese.

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This variation on a classic Caesar salad recipe comes together right in the bowl. Rather than dumping a creamy and heavy (albeit delicious) dressing on the romaine, in this recipe the garlic is mashed together with the anchovies and olive oil, then tossed with the romaine, lemon juice, egg yolk and Parmesan cheese.

I often serve this alongside simple salt and pepper chicken thighs for an easy dinner for a crowd or dinner party. While simple, the chili oil croutons add an unexpected touch.

This is a recipe that one of my mentors, Riki Senn, taught me based on her experience at the famed Greenbriar in West Virginia. Traditionally, this salad is assembled on a cart at the table at classic “white tablecloth” type institutions (hence the name “table-side”). It’s entertaining to watch as it comes together before your eyes. Like getting to sit at a table in a restaurant with an open kitchen concept. I love getting to see what goes on behind the scenes.

Table-side Caesar Salad with Chili Oil Croutons

More About This Dressing

The salad becomes much lighter and is so flavorful and fresh. I prefer this style to any dressing out of a bottle. Topped with chicken or shrimp it makes the perfect entrée or a great side salad served in a seasoned large wooden salad bowl. I like to take my Caesar salad a step further and top it with homemade croutons that have been tossed in chili oil to give it a little more of a kick.

What’s in This Caesar Dressing

  • Olive oil
  • Anchovy
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Egg yolk
  • Parmesan
chili oil croutons from cooking with cocktail rings

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Anchovy – Don’t count out anchovies, even if you aren’t a fan; give them a try in this recipe anyway. You can’t necessarily taste the anchovy flavor but they provide a briny, umami flavor that rounds out the dressing. While oil-packed anchovies are traditionally used, I also like using the anchovy paste that comes in a tube – it lasts longer and can be kept in the fridge for easy use.
  • Egg yolk – This recipe does call for a raw egg yolk, but if you are uncomfortable with that because of health concerns (the whole salmonella scare that was ingrained in our brains in the 90’s is over the top in my opinion) then feel free to omit it in favor of additional Parmesan cheese. However, the egg yolk helps to create that creamy element that is characteristic of Caesar salad.
  • Parmesan – Parmesan-Reggiano is definitely one of my favorite cheeses. It’s a hard cow’s milk cheese aged for different lengths of time. I’d recommend buying a roughly cut piece of wrapped cheese from the grocery store – it’s typically a higher quality cheese.
how to make tableside caesar salad with chili oil croutons GIF

How to Make Table-Side Caesar Salad

For the chili oil croutons:

  1. Make the chili oil. Add the olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes to a small saucepan over medium-low heat, and simmer, stirring frequently, until the oil becomes fragrant, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Strain the oil into a small bowl, discarding the red pepper flakes.
  2. Cook the croutons. Heat oven to 350ºF. Toss the cubed bread with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread in an even single layer on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until the croutons are crispy and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  3. Cool the croutons. Set aside and let cool. Croutons can be kept in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

For the tableside Caesar salad:

  1. Make the base of the sauce. In a large wooden salad bowl use the prongs of a fork of the back of a spoon to mash together the garlic clove with the anchovies and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until it comes together and is almost completely combined. Add the remaining olive oil and continue to mash together.
  2. Toss with the lettuce. Add the romaine and toss to coat in the dressing. Squeeze the lemon over the top (be sure no seeds get in) and season to taste with salt and pepper, tossing to combine.
  3. Add the egg. If adding, add the egg yolk over the top and toss the romaine to coat and emulsify the dressing.
  4. Assemble and serve. Toss with half of the Parmesan and top with the remaining cheese and croutons. Serve in salad bowls immediately.
Tableside Caesar Salad with Chili Oil Croutons recipe from Cooking with Cocktail Rings

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Tableside Caesar Salad with Chili Oil Croutons recipe from Cooking with Cocktail Rings

Table-side Caesar Salad with Chili Oil Croutons

chopped romaine lettuce served with cubed croutons and a light caesar dressing in a wood salad bowl
Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the chili oil croutons:

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups ½” cubed day old French bread
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

For the tableside Caesar salad:

  • 1 clove garlic smashed
  • 4 oil-packed anchovies, or 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 romaine hearts, leaves torn or roughly chopped
  • ½ lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature (optional)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

For the chili oil croutons:

  • Add the olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes to a small saucepan over medium-low heat, and simmer, stirring frequently, until the oil becomes fragrant, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Strain the oil into a small bowl, discarding the red pepper flakes.
  • Heat oven to 350ºF. Toss the cubed bread with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread in an even single layer on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until the croutons are crispy and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  • Set aside and let cool. Croutons can be kept in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

For the tableside Caesar salad:

  • In a large wooden salad bowl use the prongs of a fork of the back of a spoon to mash together the garlic clove with the anchovies and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until it comes together and is almost completely combined. Add the remaining olive oil and continue to mash together.
  • Add the romaine and toss to coat in the dressing. Squeeze the lemon over the top (be sure no seeds get in) and season to taste with salt and pepper, tossing to combine.
  • If adding, add the egg yolk over the top and toss the romaine to coat and emulsify the dressing.
  • Toss with half of the Parmesan and top with the remaining cheese and croutons. Serve in salad bowls immediately.

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