Friday, March 5, 2010

YamDaisy Caesar Salad

Following on from the previous post, that showcased Andrea's Summer menu, I went on a quest to discover  the perfect Caesar Salad for the YamDaisy Menu. (Read more about Yamdaisy Menus here)
This meant it needed to be:
A meal in a bowl
Absolutely delicious
Everyday food

I did a bit of thinking about my experience with Caesar Salad ~  not much! I had heard of it when I was young, and knew that it involved raw egg dressing the leaves! Something I feared and loathed! Eventually I saw a recipe where the egg was poached and thought Yes! I could try that!
But never did.
A friend spent time in Canada and said every family had their version there, like many Australians have their version of coleslaw. So that made me notice the variations in the recipes I saw.
But I still hadn't tried one, let alone made one.

I also thought about need for the egg to be cooked to avoid risks associated with raw eggs. This may have been how the egg came out of the salad and was put on top in the first place! 

Next was research: I got good help from the folk at the Jamie Oliver Forums, and I had a great trawl through Google.
What I loved finding out about the original Caesar Salad was that the great treat was the dressing he mixed up with a flourish at the table, and how the crisp Romaine (Cos) lettuce leaves that were dressed and topped with croutons were pulled out dripping and eaten with delight. (No anchovies, no bacon, no poached egg, no chicken, no tuna).
But this was a side salad, and a wicked special treat. 'Sometimes' food, not 'Everyday' food.

I kept in mind the lovely thought of the crisp lettuce leaves dripping with the delicious creamy dressing, and went back to Brian's Caesar Salad that was made with dressed cos lettuce leaves, and croutons, bacon and egg. I wanted to bake the croutons, and poach the egg. I had thought of a vinaigrette dressing, since the egg is not in the salad, but on top instead ~ but what about the creamy original?

Gradually I began to consider a creamy yoghurt based dressing. I know these can be exquisitely delicious, and I could just imagine pulling the leaves out dripping! I went over in my mind what additions: mustard and worcestershire sauce surely, as they were in the original, garlic, maybe a little maple syrup for sweetness? (Eek No! said my friend Lin).
After a lot of thinking I googled 'Yoghurt Caesar Dressing' and lo and behold I came up with this: It even has the maple syrup in it! (Lin!).

Off I went shopping and bought the ingredients I needed, then home and time to begin.
I made the croutons as Koukouvagia suggested on the Jamie Oliver Forum, I made the dressing from the blog, I poached the egg, cooked the bacon and prepared the Cos leaves and the herbs.

Because the dressing was so wonderful and full of flavour, the croutons probably didn't need to be dressed with herbs and garlic, but I will leave them in for my recipe (because they are THE best croutons). The poached egg worked well (it has been years since I poached an egg, I won't wait so long again!), the bacon was great. The dressing did slide off the leaves a bit, but that meant I got to dip them in the dressing at the bottom of the bowl, and that was SO YUMMY!
This was a wonderful meal in a bowl! A real treat, and it would be such a lovely dish for a YamDaisy Cafe!

Joy's Version of Andrea's Suggestion of Brian's Version of Caesar Salad for the YamDaisy Cafe!

Cut good bread (mine was day old home made bread) into cubes, no crusts
In a bowl mix a little extra version olive oil, mix in a minced garlic clove, a little dried oregano, finely chopped chive and season with salt and pepper.
Mix the breadcubes in the oil until they are just moistened.
Tip them onto a tray and bake 5 - 10 minutes in a warm oven.
Put aside. 
They are very yummy, but don't eat them yet!

Lemon Yoghurt Caesar Dressing
In a non reactive bowl place the following ingredients:
The juice and zest of half a lemon
1 tsp of Tabasco or other chilli sauce (optional)
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 tsp salt
Plenty of fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 a granny smith apple finely grated
1/4 cup Greek yoghurt
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tbsp rice vinegar
Mix until really well combined. 
Have a little taste, it should be magnificent! 
Set aside.

Poached Egg(s)
Bring a pan of water to a simmer. The pan should be low and wide so it is easy to get the eggs in and out. The water should be an inch deep (nearly 3 cm) so the eggs are submerged.
Add a little milk and bring it to a simmer again.
Add the most wonderful, fresh egg(s) you can get. place gently in the water and keep it at a bare simmer for about three minutes, maybe three and a half. (My three minute one had a just runny yolk which was perfect).
Lift out and drain it on a paper towel.

Cut a nice rasher of bacon into pieces (mine were nearly 1cm x 2 cm) and put them into a cold frypan. Put it on the heat so it warms up gently and the fat from the bacon cooks them just how you like them! Set them aside.

Cos Lettuce and Herbs
Cos is what we call Romaine lettuce. Get out the lovely fresh smaller leaves from the middle!
Fresh parsley and chopped spring onion.

Putting it all together!
Put the leaves into the dressing and toss them around and then place them on the plate.
Top with the bacon, egg, croutons and herbs in whatever configuration you fancy!
Add another blob of dressing to set it all off.
Sit down and enjoy!


  1. Oh I just want to cut into the runny yolk of the poached egg!

  2. Great JYD!
    I love Caesar Salad and the one tip I can give you is to add some finely chopped/sliced garlic to your oil before you mix in the bread. When you bake the croutons this garlic roasts and delivers a beautiful sweet flavour to the salad.

  3. It was lovely 3 Hungry Tummies!
    Anonymous, I did put garlic (and oregano) with the croutons, but I thought the flavour disappeared in the salad. I will think about editing it back in to the final recipe!

  4. Very Yum Joy! Everything I love in a bowl: bread, bacon, eggs, maple syrup, garlic... yum.
    I'll definitely try your version of Caesar Salad.

  5. Hi Joy, I'm so glad you liked the recipe!! We are a family that Loves Caesar salads! Thought you might like to know that after the publication of my third book- Fresh Maine Salads, Superb Maine Soups and Delicious Maine Desserts- We have a Maine theme going on here... PBS has picked up the pilot of my cooking show. Fresh to Flavorful will soon be available streaming online. You might like the Caramelized Onion Tarte with Wilted Garlic Arugula. You can find the recipes that have aired at Fresh to Flavorful on Facebook. Thanks so much for mentioning my blog! Savor. Linger. Enjoy.-Cynthia

  6. Yummy, I love home-made ceasar salad, and this one looks particularly delicious, I am coming round...
    Take care. xxx

  7. Salads don't get much better than this one. I love the changes you've made and plan to give this a try really soon. Have a great day, Joy. Blessings...Mary

  8. The poached egg is a great addition to the caesar...unfortunately I was never be able to make a good poached egg...thanks for the recipe, I will try next time.
    Have a beautiful weekend!

  9. Wow, looks really good (and decadent ;))

  10. I have edited the crouton directions so they are back to Kou's original and will make Anonymous happy too!

  11. I always wondered where I could find the perfect croutons recipe and here it is !

    So, I've watched on TV about the storm in Melbourne. Are you safe, dear friend ?
    We're having such a crazy weather these last times.

    Get well :)

  12. Wow! Such a delicious-looking salad. Yum!

  13. Oh so yummy! I love caesar salad.

  14. oh the ceasar salad! i remember when i ate it for the very firts time in an italian resaturant in warsaw... itr was so good! since then is one of my favourites!
    thank you for sharing and have a very sweet monday!

  15. I like the way you have explained how to make the different bits of the salad. I must try to make the croutons!
    Lucy xx

  16. I so love your comments here everyone!
    Mary I have such respect for your cooking that your compliment is especially precious to me.
    But then so are the others!!!! It was great to have approval when a salad can be so contentious!
    It was lovely to hear from 'Savor, Linger, Enjoy'
    And I agree with everyone who talked about the croutons, it was fabulous to make them this way!

  17. The salad looks so pretty, all those bright greens! Thanks for sharing the dressing as well. It sounds so good!