This recipe is for my traditional Caesar side salad. My son Timmy loves it! That is saying a lot, because it is tough to get him to eat his vegetables. It was difficult while he had braces, but now they are off and he can eat as much salad as he wants. He even thanks me for putting a salad on the table (yay! I must be doing something right).
Now, Caesar salad is dead simple to make. For me, the tricks are in these techniques: prep your greens, grate your own cheese, and make your own croutons.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (I use “convection bake,” since my oven has that option).
Chop a head of romaine lettuce lengthwise, and then crosswise.
Place it in a salad spinner with two handfuls of ice, a splash of vinegar, and enough water to cover it all.
Let the spinner sit: at least until the ice melts, but really until you need to put the salad together. Pull out/tear off ugly bits as you see them.
Chop two ciabatta rolls into 1-inch chunks. Toss with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and herbes de Provence (crush this in your hands to release some flavor).
Spread croutons across a foil-lined cookie sheet and pop them in the oven for 7 or so minutes. I like mine not too crunchy, so I don’t want to overlook them. Go ahead a make them as crunchy as you like them. That is the beauty of making your own!
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is the best! My local Harmons chops down a whole wheel of the stuff every once in a while and sells it in bits, and I always pick some up when I see it. Don’t buy pre-grated cheese, and don’t grate it until the last minute- that is how you get the best flavor.
Now, toss your salad. Start by combining the lettuce and dressing – this allows dressing to coat the lettuce without crushing the croutons or cheese.