While caesar salad in a creamy tangy salad dressing topped with cheese and croutons is a classic, I love this twist made with a creamy, spicy dressing and buttered breadcrumbs in every bite. This recipe is based on the little gem salad from Jon & Vinnys in Los Angeles. It’s one of my favorite recipes that comes together with ingredients that I typically keep stocked in my pantry.
I don’t enjoy most store-bought creamy caesar dressings – they typically don’t have the best flavor and aren’t made with fresh ingredients. You can make this dressing up to three days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Make extra breadcrumbs and dressing to easily make additional salads. Trust me, you will want more!
This spicy caesar dressing gets its signature burn from the addition of Calabrian chilies while lemon juice and Worcestershire brighten it up.
I like to slice the hearts of romaine for easy eating. I prefer salads that don’t require a fork and knife. This is especially good for side salads or when entertaining.
Be sure to remove the thick ribs from the middle of the kale stems. They can be very tough and add an unpleasant texture. I use Tuscan kale, also called dino kale because it has a better texture for salad. I like to then lay the leaves on top of each other and roll them together then thinly slice the kale into thin, even strips. This cut is a chiffonade.
Egg yolks help to emulsify the salad dressing (as they would a mayonnaise or aioli). If you are uneasy about cooking with raw egg yolks I recommend using the freshest eggs you can find from a reputable company (local eggs would be best). You can also look for pasteurized eggs. Raw egg is not recommended for infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.
Calabrian chilis give this salad dressing the spice. They are little red Italian chili peppers that pack a punch, and once preserved in oil (as used here), they are smoky, salty, fruity and spicy all at the same time. Find Calabrian chili paste at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or online from Williams Sonoma or Amazon.
This fermented condiment adds a lot of concentrated flavor – a little goes a long way. The flavor of Worcestershire comes from a mix of vinegar, molasses, anchovies, garlic, tamarind extract and chili pepper.
Don’t count out anchovies, even if you aren’t a fan. You can’t necessarily taste the anchovy flavor but they provide a briny, umami flavor that rounds out the caesar dressing. 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.
I use a combination of extra-virgin olive oil and a neutral oil like vegetable oil in this recipe. The olive oil’s distinct olive flavor can overwhelm the other ingredients in the dressing if used on its own, so it’s combined with a mild oil. The vegetable oil can be swapped with another neutral oil like grapeseed oil.
I love making my own breadcrumbs out of leftover stale bread. Simply add bread to a food processor or blender and pulse until ground. Make the breadcrumbs ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.
TAG ME ON INSTAGRAM TO BE FEATURED ON MY STORIES! @cookingwithcocktailrings