Caesar Salad with Anchovy-Parmesan Potato Croutons
What makes a Caesar salad special? For chef and restaurateur Tyler Florence, it’s about striking the perfect balance between fresh romaine and flavorful dressing, with croutons for crunch. In this recipe he substitutes crispy potatoes for the croutons—and, while he was at it, he flavored them with two of the best parts of a Caesar salad, the Parmesan and anchovy. The potatoes absorb the dressing terrifically and bring a welcome change to this classic salad. This recipe makes about 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) of dressing, but you won’t need all of it. Store any remaining dressing in the refrigerator and use it within a few days.
For the Caesar dressing:
- 6 anchovy fillets
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 whole egg plus 2 egg yolks
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) grapeseed or canola oil
- 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) grated Parmesan cheese
- Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the salad:
- 8 oz. (250 g) new potatoes (8 to 10 golf ball–size potatoes)
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) plus 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 anchovy fillets, drained, patted dry and oil reserved
- 1 garlic clove
- 6 Tbs. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 lb. (500 g) mixed lettuces, such as romaine, gem and butter lettuce
- Shavings of Parmesan cheese, to taste
To make the dressing, place the anchovies, garlic cloves, whole egg, egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard and a splash of water in a blender and mix. With the blender running, slowly pour in the grapeseed oil to make a thick dressing. Add the olive oil, Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste and blend until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate the dressing if you will not be using it immediately.
Preheat an oven to 425°F (220°C).
To make the salad, rinse the potatoes and slice in half. Place on a baking sheet and toss with 1/4 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) of the oil, 1 tsp. sea salt and the bay leaves. Make sure the potatoes are skin side down on the pan. Roast the potatoes until they are nice and crisp, about 25 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.
Finely chop together the anchovies, garlic and a pinch of sea salt, then mash with the side of your knife to form a paste. Transfer to a large bowl and add 1/4 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) of the olive oil, 4 Tbs. of the Parmesan, and a drop of the reserved anchovy oil. Whisk together and season with pepper. Fill a large bowl with cold water and place the lettuces in the water.
Gently agitate the leaves to loosen any dirt, which will sink to the bottom while the leaves float on top.
Transfer the leaves to towels and gently pat dry. (Salad spinners tend to bruise lettuce.) Keep small leaves whole, and tear large leaves into generous-size pieces.
Toss the potatoes in the anchovy-cheese paste, then put them back in the oven until the cheese melts, 5 to 7 minutes. Toss with the remaining 2 Tbs. Parmesan.
Smear a generous layer of dressing on the inside of a large mixing bowl; this helps to incorporate the dressing evenly. Add the lettuce leaves to the bowl and toss to coat the leaves with dressing. Toss in more dressing if desired. Add a few shavings of Parmesan cheese, a sprinkling of black pepper and the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Place the dressed leaves on a platter and top with the potato croutons and a final shower of grated Parmesan. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
Adapted from Inside the Test Kitchen: 120 New Recipes, Perfected, by Tyler Florence (Clarkson Potter, 2104)