Salvate, Caesar! Okay, okay…so maybe the Caesar for whom this is named didn’t speak latin (though he was Italian) and maybe he created this in the Americas….but who cares? It was nothing short of genius. Now, the original is definitely not veg friendly, containing anchovies and egg yolk, but we can easily get around that nonsense with some tweaks and end up with an absolutely divine, silky, luscious dressing to drown your poor lettuce leaves in. [poor poor lettuce] I find most caesar dressings to be incredibly lacking, often they’re overly tart, too sweet, too biting….actual caesar salad is rich with umami, buttery qualities, a nice tang, garlicky, and did i mention rich? yes, rich! This dressing hits all those points with aplomb, while managing to not be overly heavy, it gently coats the romaine in a glistening glimmer of nom.
½ tsp salt
16g | 5 kalamata olives, pitted
25g | 6 medium-large cloves garlic
¼ c brine from pickled peppers (mild banana or pepperoncini)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp lecithin granules or liquid lecithin (i prefer the granules here)
1 ¼ cup mayo
3-6 Tbsp milk, unsweetened unflavored (optional)
blend all but mayo, oil, brine, and milk (if using) until smooth
with the blender running, add in brine, followed by mayo, then oil
add milk (or not) to reach desired consistency
Most of the ingredients here are gonna seem pretty basic and common to other caesar dressings, mayo (for the “eggs” and oil), olive oil (go for a buttery one over a grassy one here), garlic, lemon, worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, dijon… the twists, and what really make this dressing stand out, are the kalamata olives, which bring in briny, umami richness. Lecithin, which adds even further to the decadence and brings an incredible buttery quality to the dressing, and…wait for it…pickled pepper brine…what?! yup. The brine from (preferably) pepperoncini or (mild) banana peppers provides a tart bang and briny hit that covers for the missing anchovies, i kid you not. Pickled. Pepper. Brine. Hey, what else are you gonna use it for? See? I’m economizing for you. You’re welcome. Finally we use some milk of choice for a thinner consistency, but that’s optional, maybe you like yours super thick or want to use it like a dip (which is friggin delicious), in which case, skip it. Lastly i want to mention the importance of pepper to a good caesar salad, you may be wondering why there is so little in this dressing….that’s because the flavour of pepper dissipates quickly, the amount in the recipe is there to act as an enhancer, you should absolutely 100% totally put FRESH ground pepper on your salad (or mix it into the dip) just before you put it in your face. DOO EET.
I really can’t imagine this recipe being much easier…You start by throwing everything but your brine, oil, and mayo (and milk, obviously, if you’re even using it) into a blender and blitz it til it is completely smooth, then you pour in your brine, then the mayo, then your oil. You don’t even have to turn the machine off for all of it and it literally just takes a couple minutes! Now, some mayo can separate when blended, if you find that to be the case with yours [i’m sorry] then after blending in the brine, move it to a bowl and whisk in the mayo and oil. Be sure that if you’re avoiding soy you get sunflower lecithin and not soy! both are readily available out there for you.
There are a few tweak notes i’d like to share, first off, i mentioned earlier adjusting the consistency with milk, feel free to add whatever amount you need (or none) to get the texture you want. For reference, i use (unflavored, unsweetened) almond milk in mine, usually about 3-4 Tbsp, so if you want to use that as a starting point, i think it provides the perfect thickness for romaine. Second tweak, for those of you who like your caesar more like the jarred stuff off the shelf, the kind that makes you pucker and your tongue beg for mercy, simply replace the milk with more brine OR vinegar, or if you like it super lemony, you could use more lemon juice instead of brine. Third tweak is about garlic, as you’re probably aware, garlic can vary dramatically in flavour and heat (there are so many varieties, and the age, etc etc) this recipe is based on a middle of the road garlic, you should taste yours, if it’s really hot and strong, cut way back on the amount or else you’re gonna have a numb palate after the first few bites. [you don’t want that. that’s bad. no.]
That’s it….try and resist the urge to fill a bathtub with chopped romaine and drizzle it in this dressing, definitely resist the urge to dive in and roll around in it while scantily clad models of your chosen gender sprinkle you with parmesan and croutons, and for sure avoid shoving handfuls of said salad into your mouth until you explode. I know, it’s going to be hard to do. I go through the hardship of resisting such a nommly hedonistic scene every time i make this, no joke. You may find yourself making gallons of this stuff…show some restraint. There will be plenty more delicious noms for you to nibble. Now, go forth and Salvate, Caesar!