Who Made The Salad?

| October 1, 2011 | 5 Comments
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The Wizard Of Salad

Caesar Cardini - http://retrieverlife.com

Caesar Cardini

It might surprise you to know that the Caesar salad is widely credited to have been invented by one Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who lived in San Diego but opened a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, to avoid prohibition. As legend has it, on July 4th, 1924, Caesar was running short on supplies due to an unexpected rush of customers. In order to not have to turn customers away, he concocted a salad and dressing out of some of the remaining ingredients he had lying around. Cardini made do with what he had, adding the dramatic flair of the table-side tossing “by the chef.”

There are other stories about its origin but I like the flair associated with this one!


Serves 4 people
Good baguette of french bread for crostini
2 hearts of romaine lettuce
3 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 cloves of garlic minced (3 cloves for the salad dressing and 2 cloves for the crostinis)
5 tbsp of fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks, 1 whole egg
1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
1 lemon’s juice (about 3 tbsp)
8 anchovy fillets
1 1/4 cups of olive oil
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Note: you will probably have enough dressing left over for a another night of salad later in the week!

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I first became a real aficionado of the Caesar salad on a date with my then future wife, Lorraine. We were out to dinner at a restaurant in Saugatuck, MI, a wonderful summer resort town in western Michigan. I don’t remember the restaurant but I do remember ordering the Caesar salad for two. There is nothing quite like a traditional Caesar salad prepared at a fine restaurant. The waiter rolled up with his cart and began preparing the salad. It was quite a show that made the salad taste even more spectacular. Taking his time blending eggs, fresh Parmesan cheese, anchovies, and garlic. As he mixed the ingredients together, you could tell that this was a special salad that should be enjoyed with someone special!

Now, like any “wanna be” chef, I thought someday I would make a great Caesar salad at home. After a lot of experimentation I found the perfect recipe that, naturally, I tweaked to make my own. I hope you enjoy this version of Caesar Cardini’s original classic!

Putting It All Together

Creating a great Caesar salad is based on how much passion you want to put into it. I like to make my Caesar salad with a crostini. To make the crostini:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cut the baguette into nicely angled 1/4-inch thick slices.
  • Paint each slice with olive oil.
  • Then sprinkle with minced garlic and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Place slices onto a baking pan and cook until golden brown.

To make the salad dressing:

  • Add the red wine vinegar, garlic, Parmesan cheese, egg yolks/eggs, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, pepper, and anchovy fillets into a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Then slowly add the olive oil into the mixture while blending (I use the pulse setting on my blender for this step).
  • Taste the dressing. You should not need any additional salt because the anchovies and Parmesan are salty. Add additional salt to taste, if necessary.

Preparing the salad

  • You can get as fancy as you want here. If you are not serving immediately, I recommend using whole romaine leaves as they will keep longer. I usually am serving immediately so just cut the romaine heads into bite size pieces.
  • Put the salad in a large serving bowl and add the dressing. There is plenty of dressing in this recipe for two heads of romaine. You want enough dressing so all the leaves a covered but not “drenched”.
  • Cut up the crostinis into bite-sized pieces and add to the salad.
  • Toss everything together and serve to your guests.
  • Add fresh grated Parmesan and fresh ground pepper to each guest’s taste.

Now tossing a Caesar salad does not make a great evening. Make sure to surround yourself with great friends, fine wine, and of course your retrievers! I hope you enjoy my take on this timeless salad.

Do You Have A Recipe That You Want To Share

If you have a great recipe you want to share with our readers please email us with your recipe. I love to try out new great dishes to inspire the “hidden” chef inside me!


Category : Good Eats

About the Author ()

I am one of the founders and editor of Retriever Life. My passion is Labradors of all sizes and shapes but I am a big fan of all the retriever breeds.

Comments (5)

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  1. Alexandra says:

    Tony, just love the recipes. Would like to know if you have a recipe for a very good Minestroni Soup ?

    • Toni says:

      I do not have one yet but I will work on finding one for our next issue! Minestroni sounds like a great winter soup (along with some homemade garlic bread!).

  2. Love looking at Your recipe section… I will have to forward you a strawberry salad recipe that is fantastic! Ask Chantel’s husband Al… He bypassed the BBQ ribs for the salad!

  3. Kate Braukus says:


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