mini ceaser salad

Monday, March 11, 2019
Steady on ladies, it's a throwback to a birthday dinner party in Berkely 2017 and Henry serving canapes for a 50th birthday in Berkeley.  
Like a musician remembered for one song, we'll probably only remember Ceaser Cardini for the salad which maybe he didn't even invent - but then everyone always wants to take the glory don't they.

It always amazes me when you look in the salad dressings aisle of supermarkets just how expensive dressings are for what they are - there's a money making business if ever there is one. Me? I just keep a few staple ingredients in the fridge and store cupboard and you can make anything - quite how the Ceaser salad came into being in the first place.

Ceaser salad is great comfort food. The day after I catered for my grandpas wake I left my brother with all the ingredients to make Cesaser salad for everyone while I went back to work. It's both comfort food and easy to eat and therein lies it's popularity. The umami from the parmesan helps too.

Did you know?
Ceaser dressing works very well as a dip for chips or potato wedges? Try it!

Anchovies/ no anchovies?
Like marmite people either love them or hate them, and as a chef you end up just always serving the anchovies on the side so guests can choose whether they want them or not. I am a great anchovy fan and prefer using the fresh marinated anchovies rather than the tinned variety. You can add anchovy paste to the dressing as well. 

Wishy washy Ceaser salad
Another thing people get wrong so often with Ceaser salad is not drying the lettuce enough after washing. Excess water clinging to the leaves just dilutes the dressing and you see a puddle of thin dressing swimming around in the bottom of your salad bowl rather than clinging to the leaves - what's the point in life? Spin the salad leaves in a salad spinner, then dry on a clean tea towel as well for good measure. 

Cheat's Ceaser Dressing
Why cheats? Because you're not making it from scratch with egg yolk and oil. But that's all mayonnaise is really. Using sherry vinegar rather than wine gives it a really nice extra flavour. Don't get carried away with the garlic as the flavour develops after the dressing is made.

200ml Mayonnaise
2tsp Sherry vinegar
1tsp Lemon juice
1tsp Worcestershire sauce
50g Grated parmesan
1/2 tsp Wholegrain mustard
1 Clove fresh garlic, pureed
Few glugs of olive oil
Freshly milled black pepper
Water, depending on consistency

This has the simplest method - you just combine everything in a mixing bowl and whisk together. If your mayonnaise is quite salty already you probably don't need extra salt (think of your arteries). Depending on how thick your dressing is you might need to add a little water to loosen it so it is coating consistency for the lettuce leaves. 

How long will Ceaser dressing keep in the fridge?
If you are making your own mayonnaise base from raw egg it will only last 3 days in the fridge. But if you use a brought mayonnaise made from pasteurised egg it will last up to a month in the fridge - an instant snack for you.

Crispy tortilla baskets
You can also make these starter size or bowl size for a lunch or even bigger to share at the table - endless possibilities.

To make the canape size ones you need a mini muffin tin. Cut out tortilla circles with a cutter larger so the circles will fill the base and all the way up the sides.

Place the cut out tortilla circles into a tray/ bowl of cold water and let them soak for 10 seconds. Then take them out and mould them into the mini muffin tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 160 oC for 7 - 10 minutes till crisp. You want them just golden.
Ceaser Salad

Baby gem lettuce, washed, spun and very dry
Ceaser dressing (see recipe above)
Parmesan shavings
Fresh marinated anchovies (optional)
Parma ham


  • First make the parma ham crisps. Lay pieces of parma ham on a baking sheet with baking mat or greaseproof paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 oC for 5 - 6 minutes till crispy. Put a timer on - they are easy to burn (done so many times). Also make more than you need because they are so edible straight out of the oven. 
  • Cut baby gem into small cubes - small enough to fit into the mini tortilla baskets. Mix with the dressing. 
  • The crispy tortilla baskets don't stay crisp forever once they're filled, so leave it as late as you can till you make them up before serving. 
  • Spoon the lettuce mix into the tortilla baskets. Garnish with parmesan flake, broken parma ham crisp and slice of anchovy. You could also add a small slice of grilled chicken. 

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