Quick Recipes and Easy

The Original Caesar Salad – Put Some Ole! In Your Life

After World War I, my Grandfather settled in San Diego, California. Since Prohibition was the rule of the day, he made frequent trips to Tijuana where he could drink with impunity.

One his favorite watering holes was Hotel Caesars, where Caesar Cardini, the creator of the Caesar Salad, presided as chef.

Granddad loved the salad and loved it often. He learned to make it by watching the table side preparation. I learned how to make it by watching granddad some 40 odd years ago.

Over time, the preparation has changed slightly. The farm fresh eggs we used years ago, as called for in the original recipe, are no longer reliably bacteria free. So I have omitted the egg, coddled or otherwise. This is not to say that I haven’t been known to occasionally break a raw egg over my personal Caesar Salad.

Another ingredient, the lemon, has also changed over the years. They are grown so large now, you need only the juice of one half lemon.

The following recipe serves 4.

Romaine Lettuce:

When you shop for lettuce, buy Hearts of Romaine. They are sold 3 heads to a package. You will need 2 heads for 4 salads. This allows for a predictable amount of lettuce in proportion to the dressing.

Remove any discolored outer leaves (usually 2 or 3) and trim the tops of each head if they look ragged. Also trim an inch or so from the bottom of each head.

Chop the lettuce into one and a half inch pieces, separate the leaves and refrigerate.

Garlic Oil: 1 cup olive oil, 7 or 8 large garlic cloves, chopped.
I like extra virgin olive oil, but we’ve never used it for this salad. Regular Pastene or Berio brand olive oil makes a perfectly tasty salad.

The original version of the recipe calls for the garlic to be steeped in oil overnight, un-refrigerated. This technique produces a mellow flavored garlic oil.

Over the years, and hundreds of salads later, my guests and I prefer sharper tasting garlic oil made by heating the oil and garlic in a sauce pan over low heat until the smell of garlic wafts up into the kitchen.

Be careful not to brown the garlic. At the first sign of browning, remove the pan from the burner, and strain the contents into Pyrex measuring cup.

Worcestershire: Six shakes, or approximately 2 Tablespoons.

Lemon: The juice of one half lemon, also 2 Tablespoons.

Parmesan Cheese: One half cup

Look in your supermarket’s dairy case for the 5 oz. wedge of Parmesan made by Dragone or other cheese maker. This type of Parmesan is softer than Parmigiano Reggiano and combines well with the olive oil for a creamy texture that makes the egg unnecessary.

Using a hand grater, grate the cheese on the side with the smallest holes. The grated cheese should have a fluffy consistency.


A loaf of dense white or crusty French bread from the bakery works best. Set out 3 or 4 slices to dry for a few hours. When dry, cut into one half inch cubes. You can either toss the cubes in some of the garlic oil and bake until golden, or fry them in oil. Make sure to save one half cup of the garlic oil for the salad.

Tableside Presentation

Place the chilled lettuce in a large wooden bowl. If you don’t have one, go out and treat yourself. I’m still using the original cracked wooden bowl my grandfather brought back from Mexico.

Pour the remaining one half cup oil into a cruet. It’s a lot more attractive than a Pyrex cup. Place the cheese in a small bowl or ramekin, and set alongside the bottle of Worcestershire, half a lemon, and a pepper mill.

It’s Showtime!

Pour some of the oil over the lettuce, add a few twists from the pepper mill and toss to coat the leaves. If some of the leaves look dry, add a small more oil.

Start with 5 shakes from the Worcestershire bottle and toss again. You can always add a few more drops if necessary.

Squeeze the lemon over all and toss a few more times.

Before you add the cheese, sample the aroma by waving your hand rapidly up from the bowl towards your nose like the chefs do on TV. You’re testing for balance among the ingredients. Adding a small more garlic oil will even things out if you smell too much Worcestershire or lemon.

Sprinkle half the cheese around the lettuce, toss, add the rest of the cheese, and toss again.

Add the croutons; give it a final toss, and delight in the shouts of Ole! from your guests when they taste your perfect Caesar Salad.

In between Caesar Salads, Sam Streubel edits alternative-heating-info.com Alternative-Heating-Info.com, a unique guide to geothermal heating and cooling, outdoor furnaces, corn boilers, radiant heat, solar heating systems and pellet burning stoves.

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