I used to travel all the time for work to Houston, and a few of my favorite restaurants there made caesars with a smokey edge to them, once I even had one with the romaine grilled over mesquite wood, and it was out of this world. This dressing is my take on these southern style caesars, a little smokey from the pimenton, and with rosemary thrown in for some herbal interest. Both the dressing and crouton recipes will make more than you need for a single salad, but I have built my recipes to accommodate my greedy kids who would kill me if I only made enough for a single salad at a time. This recipe calls for making a mayo from scratch, but if you don't have the time, or can't be bothered, substituting a good quality store bought mayo will work in a pinch. - Oui, Chef —Oui, Chef
Test Kitchen Notes
Smoked paprika and rosemary are usually show-stealing flavors, but Oui, Chef applies them in measured amounts so that his otherwise classic Caesar dressing is accented and rounded by a restrained smoky, earthy quality. The lemon zest is a thoughtful addition, supplying lightness and fragrance without extra acid. Though the leftover rosemary croutons make for an addictive snack, as Oui, Chef notes, you can easily cut that part of the recipe (by half or more) if you're only using one head of romaine. - Kristen —The Editors
large, organic farm fresh egg
lemon juice - to taste
freshly grated parmesan reggiano
plus 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
cloves finely minced garlic
anchovy paste, or 3 anchovy filets, finely chopped
pimenton (smoked spanish paprika)
finely minced fresh rosemary
Zest of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Up to 1/4 cup of water to thin the dressing
hearty artisanal bread, cut into 1/2” cubes
finely minced fresh rosemary
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
heads of romaine lettuce (depending on how many people you need to serve)
In This Recipe
If making the mayo from scratch, place the first 4 ingredients into a mixing bowl, and using a whisk, mix them all together. Add the oil slowly, starting with just a few drops at a time, while whisking vigorously. When the emulsion becomes creamy, you may increase the speed with which you add the oil to a thin stream. From the beginning the mixture should be thick enough to hold its shape and look luscious and creamy. Add the oil too quickly and it will break, turning thin and soupy, so be careful. When all the oil is incorporated add remaining lemon juice to taste. If the mayonnaise is too thick, it can be thinned by whisking in a little water.
Next, take 1 cup of your mayo (fresh or store bought) and add the next 9 ingredients to it, thin with a little water to achieve a salad dressing consistency. Taste for seasoning and reserve.
For the croutons, preheat your oven to 375 F. Place the next 4 ingredients into a large bowl, and toss with your hands until all the bread cubes are coated with the oil. Pour the cubes onto a baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Place the sheet tray in the oven and bake the croutons until golden brown, approximately 10-12 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them cool on a rack to room temperature before placing in an air-tight container for storage. This recipe will make more than you will need for a single salad, but these things are so good, you’ll be very happy to have extras.
Wash and dry the romaine leaves, then tear them into bite sized pieces, place them in a bowl and cover them with a damp cloth. keep refrigerated until you are ready to dress your salad.
To serve, toss the lettuce with just enough dressing to fully coat the greens, but not enough to drown them. Plate the salad, and top with a sprinkling of croutons and a few slivers of freshly peeled parmesan.
I am a father of five, who recently completed a two year professional hiatus during which I indulged my long held passion for cooking by moving to France to study the culinary arts and immerse myself in all things French. I earned “Le Grande Diplome” from Le Cordon Bleu, studied also at The Ritz Escoffier and Lenotre cooking schools, and completed the course offerings of the Bordeaux L’Ecole du Vin.
About six months ago started "Oui, Chef", which is a food blog that exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my children a few things about cooking, and how our food choices over time effect not only our own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences through the blog, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, cooking healthy meals as a family, passing on established familial food traditions, and perhaps starting some new ones.