I realize that the internet needs another recipe for caesar salad as much as it probably needs another new spin on chocolate chip cookies (guilty as charged, of course). Thus, it was nowhere on my agenda to suggest one. Plus, I’ve told you before that the only caesar dressing I need in my life is my hopelessly, unapologetically inauthentic one — no raw yolks, no tinned fish, and keeps in the fridge for a month, easily — which I’ve shared in some form over here and in Smitten Kitchen Every Day (in a salad with broken eggs and crushed croutons that you need in your life, trust me).
But earlier this year I was invited to be on Cherry Bombe Radio, which records at the Heritage Radio Studios, which broadcasts from two recycled shipping containers behind the Roberta’s Pizza in Bushwick, at the edge of the garden where many of Roberta’s ingredients are grown. My son was home from school that day and I do not know what the 9 year-olds in your life are like, but if I told the one I’ve been assigned that I was going to be hanging out somewhere eating legendarily delicious pizza and not invite him along, he’d (rightly) declare it excessive cruelty. So he came along and along with pizza, ordered the very caesar-y romaine salad with candied walnuts and he declared it the best salad he’d ever eaten and begged me to make it at home. Again, I don’t know what the grade-schoolers in your life are like but I consider it a general rule that if a kid requests salad, they get it.
Also: it’s a really fantastic salad, which means I hope we can find room on this site for one more caesar salad. This one is epic. Maybe it’s not what you make on a Monday night, maybe it’s not the one you make for people worried about egg yolks and salty brined fish, but now that those people are out of the room, you’re going to be glad you don’t have to share.
This, to me, is the definition of an updated classic, wherein a few tweaks makes what we’re used to even better. Tweak 1: Roasted garlic, which is creamy and delightful here. Tweak 2: Spicy candied walnuts (but you can use whatever nut you like here; Team Walnut is a lonely place, sigh) instead of the usual heaviness — or at least disappointment — of croutons. The flavor profile is different, of course, but they have such a great contrast here, plus, they’re pure Reluctant Preschooler bait. Tweak 3: Pecorino — saltier, funkier — instead of parmesan. Tweak 4: A little more subtle, but not all classic caesar salads have vinegar but this one uses a little white wine vinegar and a little sherry vinegar for extra gravitas. It harmonizes well with the roasted garlic.
It makes a lot of dressing, but we used every drop of it over the next week, when we made this salad again and again. Make it for yourself as weekend treat, or make it mid-next week and stash it in the fridge for a really great Thanksgiving salad. The salad may look austere, but nothing breaks up the heaviness of casseroles and gratins and stuffing and gravy like a crispy, green, and complex salad.
One year ago: Endive Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Walnuts
Two years ago: Roasted Cauliflower with Pumpkin Seeds, Brown Butter, and Lime and Apple Strudel
Three years ago: Oven Fries and Chocolate Peanut and Pretzel Brittle
Four years ago: Squahs Toasts with Ricotta and Cider Vinegar and Smoked Whitefish Dip with Horseradish
Five years ago: Spinach and Egg Pizzettes
Six years ago: Roasted Pear and Chocolate Chunk Scones
Seven years ago: Baked Pumpkin and Sour Cream Puddings
Eight years ago: Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese, Buckeyes and Upside-Down Cranberry Cake
Nine years ago: Silky, Decadent Old-School Chocolate Mousse, Baked Chicken Meatballs and Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
Ten years ago: Cabbage and Mushroom Galette and Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Eleven years ago: Cranberry, Caramel and Almond Tart and Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Sauteed Apples
[New!] Twelve years ago: Salt Cross Buns
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Chilaquiles Brunch Casserole and Ruffled Milk Pie
1.5 Years Ago: A Really Great Pot of Chickpeas
2.5 Years Ago: Palm Springs Date Shake + Monkey Flip
3.5 Years Ago: Potato Scallion and Kale Cakes and Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies
4.5 Years Ago: Blue Sky Bran Muffins and Fresh Spinach Pasta