roberta’s roasted garlic caesar salad – smitten kitchen

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).

pre-toast the walnutsplus sugar and spicemix it up, then bake themspicy candied walnuts

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.

not-yet-roasted garlicroasted garlica very authentic blendolive oil

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.

roasted garlic dressing

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.

roberta's roasted garlic caesar


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