Win! Big win.
I’ve been making fine-but-just-okay caesar salad dressing for years, and could kick myself for not going with the obvious – Carmine’s.
When I first moved to New York, a friend of mine invited me to dinner at Carmine’s. It’s a midtown Italian institution that I had written off as a tourist trap (which was funny since as a newbie, wasn’t I just one step removed from tourist?). The restaurant is huge, and so was the caesar salad they brought out as an appetizer. It was the best caesar salad I had eaten to date, and the dressing was thick, garlicky and flavorful. Not anything like the runny, milky white, mayo-based stuff that tries to pass for caesar dressing. BTW, there are few things in life I hate more than mayonnaise.
I had always intended to go back for more salad, but never did. In the years since, I’ve been testing many caesar dressings and though they were okay, none wowed. Then a few months ago, I was in a bookstore and saw a Carmine’s cookbook. Duh! Why hadn’t I thought to seek out Carmine’s recipe for caesar dressing? I leafed through the book hoping they included it, and was happy to see they did.
Of course I made it, loved it and couldn’t believe I hadn’t sought out the recipe sooner.
If I had to guess, I would credit the anchovies as the flavor makers. I was tempted to leave them out, but usually follow a recipe to the letter the first time I make it. Glad I kept them, because the flavor was so different from the other dressings I made. So garlic lovers and anchovy haters alike, give it a whirl!
Carmine’s Caesar Dressing
6 anchovy fillets
3 cloves of garlic (I used five because I loooove garlic)
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
juice of one small lemon
1 cup of olive oil
8 tablespoons of romano cheese (I’ve used parmesan a few times)
1 tablespoon of flat leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a blender or food processor, puree the 6 anchovy fillets. Add the garlic and blend until well mixed. Add the egg yolks and blend for about 2 minutes. Turn off the motor, add the vinegar and lemon juice, and pulse the mixture for 20 seconds. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until incorporated. Add the cheese, parsley and oregano, and pulse the mixture for ten seconds. Season with salt and pepper and chill for at least four hours. Chilling the dressing thickens it and helps it adhere to the lettuce.