Caesar Salad With Chile-Spiced Croutons

Caesar Salad With Chile-Spiced Croutons
2.4 from 24 ratings
Who doesn’t love Caesar salad? I haven’t met anyone yet... And it’s been a favorite of mine ever since my college days in California. Back then, any trendy restaurant would assemble it right at your table. The waiter would arrive with his arsenal and furiously whip an egg to make the dressing. Going out for dinner and not ordering one was inconceivable! For me, this favorite recipe has evolved though. First, I find the egg-based dressing a bit rich, so I’ve come up with one that’s just as creamy and flavorful but sits better in my stomach. Then, whenever possible, I like to use young romaine lettuces that I serve whole. It makes a gorgeous presentation and looks less predictable than the torn-up pieces of mature, thick romaine leaves. The real bonus of course is that these young romaines are utterly succulent! You won’t find them in your grocery store though, so head out to your local farmers market to pick a bunch. And I dare say you haven’t tasted a romaine until you taste these young lettuces! Lastly, I like to make my own croutons. I’ll admit it’s a fetish of mine, but I just don’t enjoy the boxed, super dehydrated ones. Spiked with a little chili powder, they are good enough that my husband Marc always tries to steal a few before I’m ready to serve. A few tweaks on this classic recipe make a modern and light Caesar salad that’s also bursting with flavor... In fact, I always eat twice my share!
  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano or grana padano
  • 5 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large slices sourdough country bread, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 6 heads romaine lettuce, preferably young romaine, halved lengthwise
  • shaved parmigiano-reggiano or grana padano, for garnish
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well blended. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bread cubes and toss well. Sauté undisturbed until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Toss and continue to sauté until golden on all sides, about 2 more minutes. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Season with the salt, pepper, to taste, and chili powder. Toss well and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Place 3 romaine halves in the center of each plate. Drizzle with the dressing and top with the croutons. Garnish with the cheese and season with freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.