Spring is finally here in Minnesota! Last week I celebrated “Spring” with my kids, who had a week-long break from school. We didn’t travel anywhere, which was wonderful. It was a week full of library trips, swimming, coffee shops, board games, and a general feeling of contentment. We read a ton of books. We slept in. We stayed up far too late. We played video games (yes, I let me kids play video games, and I love that they do). We enjoyed every minute of freedom, and I enjoyed every minute of being with them. I try not to get overly personal in this space, instead opting to focus on food and all the wonderful things about it. But, sometimes I feel the need to say how proud I am of my kids. They have grown into such incredible little people. They are kind. They are hilarious. They are brilliant– and grounded. They are compassionate. I love to be with them, and that’s a pretty great feeling.
Changing seasons always has me in a bit of flux when it comes to making food. Some days are warmer than others. Soup would probably still be fitting, but I don’t want anymore soup for awhile. Finding inspiration this time of year, in this particular place, can be a bit challenging. So I wait patiently– hoping that inspiration comes. It will. It always does. Ideas will pour out of my head soon enough, especially when I see the first asparagus of the season. Or smell the first ramps. I won’t be able to stop dreaming of moral mushrooms when I eat them for the first time this Spring. Inspiration will come.
But, in the meantime– I will go for bike rides and long walks with my kids. We will get muddy and splash in the puddles fed by the last few melting piles of snow. I will see green emerging everywhere. And I will eat this Caesar salad. Because no matter the season, Caesar salad always sounds delicious to me. Purchased dressing doesn’t even come close to this homemade version. As with most dressings, it’s a cinch to make. It’s as easy as putting all the ingredients into a mini food processor and whizzing it together. Serve it with chicken, if you like. Make some homemade croutons (which are also a cinch), or opt for a dusting of toasted breadcrumbs, as I often do. I make my dressing with a raw egg yolk– I love the consistency it gives the dressing. I use good eggs from local farmers. You should use good eggs, too. It will reduce any risks associated with using raw eggs. This dressing is bright and a little nutty from the parmesan. The anchovies give it a wonderful umami flavor that is a telltale sign of a good Caesar dressing. Don’t skip them, as an important element will be lost. Whip up this dressing and enjoy it on a bed of crisp romaine. For added flavor, brush the romaine with a bit of olive oil and toss it on the grill for a few minutes until it is slightly charred around the edges. It adds a whole extra layer of flavor! Trust me, you’ll love it. I’ve got to fly– my daughter wants to go pick up trash around the neighborhood. True story.
The Recipe: Homemade Caesar Dressing
(makes enough for 2 salads)
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 small anchovies, minced
2-3 tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
1 egg yolk (free-range/organic)
1/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil ( I prefer California Olive Ranch Olive Oil)
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Place all of the ingredients, except the olive oil in a mini-food processor ( if you don’t have one, you may use a large bowl and a whisk. Just be sure to mash the garlic and anchovies into a paste first. Then, slowly whisk the olive oil into the other ingredients). It’s best to wait to season this dressing with salt until the very end–the anchovies will provide much of the saltiness that is needed. Pulse for a few times until the mixture is uniform and creamy. With the lid on and the machine running, drizzle the olive oil through the small holes on the lid. Be sure to scrape down the sides, as needed. When it is creamy and completely incorporated, it is done. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Use immediately (this dressing does not have a long life because of the egg yolks, so use it the day it is made). Enjoy!
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