Caesar salad can get monotonous so I like to kick it up a notch. One way is by using summer produce like tricolor heirloom grape tomatoes, which bring a real burst of flavor and color. In the fall, you could use apples or pears instead of the tomatoes. For today's salad, I also added sliced red onions. But the real star ingredients of my salad are the home made croutons and salad dressing!
For the croutons, I typically use a day old baguette. It's a shame that baguettes don't stay fresh for too long because I enjoy them so much (especially with some smoked salmon and cream cheese!). Since I don't like to waste food, home made croutons are a great way to use that leftover baguette. You could also use the end slices of a loaf of bread as well. The croutons will last up to six months in an airtight container in your pantry.
To make the croutons, cut a leftover baguette into small cubes. Then in a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tbsp butter until it begins to foam. Add the bread cubes and mix to coat. Toss the bread occasionally so that both sides get toasted. When the bread is golden brown (like the color of a breakfast toast), add the salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
The most addictive part of a salad for me is the dressing. To make a creamy dressing that's full of umami flavor, it's important to use quality organic eggs, really good extra virgin olive oil (I get mine from Trader Joe's), and fresh garlic. Don't go with the store bought version - make this home made dressing and your taste buds will thank you!
Here's the complete list of ingredients I use for my dressing:
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 or 4 anchovy filets, minced (in the canned tuna section)
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup olive oil
1 tbs warm water, if needed
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
Place the egg yolk, mustard, anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce in a blender. Blend until pureed with a smooth consistency. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until it is fully incorporated. If the dressing stops moving in the blender, stop the machine, add the warm water and then continue until all the oil is added. To finish, add the cheese and blend on low speed to incorporate.
PS Don't tell the kids that the dressing has anchovies because they'll never be able to taste the difference!