An Italian Grandma’s Caesar Dressing Recipe (No Eggs or Anchovies) by Ann Marie Patitucci
Have you ever heard the interesting origins of Caesar salad? According to BBC Travel, after immigrating to the United States from Italy in the early 1900s, Cesare (“Caesar”) Cardini opened two restaurants in California, one in Sacramento and one in San Diego. However, in order to escape Prohibition, Cardini moved across the border to Tijuana, Mexico, in the 1920s; he opened his business ... in 1927.
“As legend has it, the restaurant was doing such brisk business on American Independence Day that it was running short on ingredients. On a whim, Cardini improvised a dish using romaine lettuce leaves, raw egg yolk, Parmesan cheese and other leftovers – transforming the odd scraps into a surprisingly delicious meal.” Many people believe that the dressing originated in Italy but it didn’t – it was invented in Mexico!
I have loved Caesar salad and Caesar dressing since I was a kid. However, I greatly prefer the less traditional version of the recipe, like my Italian mom’s, without raw eggs and anchovies (is it possible that the original recipe didn’t even include anchovies??). The good news is that with this version I don’t have to worry about raw eggs carrying a risk of salmonella. There’s also less of the fishy, salty taste that comes with the anchovies (though if you’d like more of the salty, briny flavor, you can get it by adding capers or miso paste).
I’m happy to share “Mimi’s” version of the Caesar salad recipe. She’s been making and sharing it to rave reviews for years. Over time I’ve added my own ingredient (Dijon mustard). I find that it contributes great flavor, though you probably won’t be able to discern it in the dressing. Use either chilled or at room temperature. Serve over salad, with store-bought or homemade croutons.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is best)
- 1 medium fresh garlic clove, minced, or 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard (my addition)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise (my mom prefers Hellman's Real Mayonnaise)
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (my mom prefers Parmigiana Reggiano)
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
Here’s how to make it:
- To make in the blender, throw all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and add salt and/or pepper, to taste.
- To make by hand, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Next, whisk in the mayonnaise, Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil, salt and pepper.
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