I feel I can reasonably mess around with Caesar to create my own version (you know such as removing the raw egg that makes so many nervous) but for me the quintessential flavor of Caesar Salad comes from Anchovies. I hear a few of you gagging at the thought, but bear with me and try it. I serve this regularly to anchovy haters (albeit fish eaters) and they have become believers. If you cannot get past the *idea* of eating flavor-packed fish paste in your salad dressing, try a splash of Worcestershire Sauce instead-- but be warned this also often contains anchovies. While you are reading the back of the label on the Worcestershire watch out for the now often included High-Fructose Corn Syrup. I find generic brands are sometimes 'safer'. If you have to avoid the anchovies altogether (Hi there Vegetarians!) Annie's makes a lovely Worcestershire without anchovies or HFCS.
This particular version of Caesar salad is inspired by a large jar of Costco sun-dried tomatoes marinating in olive oil and a Gluten-Free friend coming over. Toasted pine nuts replace the crunch provided by the usual croutons. Sun-dried tomatoes add just enough flavor to make this salad memorable.
Sun-Dried Tomato Caesar Salad
For the dressing:
1 clove garlic, crushed/minced
1 lemon juiced (about ¼ cup)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbls anchovy paste (or 1 tbls Worcestershire sauce)
¼ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
For the salad:
4 cups romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
1/2 cup sun-dried tomato pieces (marinated in olive oil)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts*
Meanwhile, whisk together the garlic and lemon for the salad dressing. Allow to sit for about 2 minutes as the acid from the lemon mellows out the garlic. Add in the Dijon mustard, anchovy paste and yogurt. Whisk until combined. Taste to see if you need more of any flavors. Slowly emulsify in the olive oil: while whisking rapidly, pour the olive oil in to the dressing in a thin, steady stream. Continue whisking until all of the olive oil has been added. Taste again. Fold in the parmesan cheese.
Drizzle some of the dressing on to the romaine lettuce. Toss lightly to coat. Add more dressing as needed. Toss in about half of the sun-dried tomatoes and pine-nuts. Garnish with the remaining sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts.
*To toast pine nuts, gently shake raw pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat. Allow to sit for 1-2 minutes. Shake. Repeat until evenly golden. Keep your nose involved. If you smell burning remove the pine nuts from the skillet as soon as possible.