Lettuce Types To Avoid For Michelin-Quality Caesar Salad, According To Nancy Silverton

Michelin star quality is certainly high praise. Ever since the tire company started creating travel guides that shone a light on the best places to get some dinner, that term has indicated the best of the best. It takes a massive amount of effort and discipline to earn Michelin stars.

According to Priceonomics, Michelin needed to spur more people to buy their tires. To do that, more people needed a car and a destination. What's a better excuse for a road trip than a great restaurant? So, since 1900, they've produced guides to point people in the right direction. The stars they award are coveted. Most restaurants will never come close to earning even a single star. If they do, there's an opportunity to add a second or third star.

Chef and restaurateur Nancy Silverton has earned a Michelin star for Osteria Mozza, according to the Michelin Guide. Since Silverton's rise to prominence beginning at La Brea Bakery, she's had a hand in a slew of iconic LA restaurants including Campanile, Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, and chi SPACCA, via Los Angeles Magazine. In 2014, she received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef.

Romaine is the name of the Caesar game

Just as Michelin Guides were really catching on, Cesare Cardini started tossing his namesake salad in Tijuana, Mexico in the 1920s, per BBC. The outlet explains that this combination of garlic, anchovy, Worcestershire sauce, egg yolk, lime juice, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese is now known as Caesar dressing. Add that to some romaine, topped with croutons, and black pepper, and you've got a Caesar salad. If you want to do it right, you'll need a large wooden bowl, a wooden spoon, and tongs. 

Part of the evolution of the salad is how mainstream it has become. About a century later, Caesar only trails ranch as America's favorite dressing, per Statista. Caesar salad had become a menu mainstay at all levels of service. You can grab a plastic clamshell of Caesar salad at 7-Eleven, or, Michelin-starred chefs can take hold of this institution and make it their own.

Et tu, Nancy?

When you're a James Beard award winner with a Michelin-rated restaurant like Silverton, those Caesar salad rules are meant to be broken. At her restaurant, Osteria Mozza, the menu's simply named, "Nancy's Caesar" underplays the lengths they go to elevate a classic.

Michelin Guide spells out the process of Osteria Mozza's deconstruction of the Caesar salad into its critical components. From there, those parts can be rethought. The croutons are elevated to a crostini, and the anchovies become more prominent. And the eggs take a more prominent role as well, rather than just being an ingredient in traditional Caesar dressing.

Maybe the biggest liberty that Osteria Mozza takes is a separation from only using romaine hearts. Rather than staying married to romaine, they only use "flawless lettuce." So, just about any lettuce will do. Presumably even romaine, assuming it's flawless. The only lettuces that won't work are greens that are too fragile or strong flavored greens, like arugula, that could conflict with the other ingredients.