Last updated on October 12th, 2021 at 03:12 pm
Caesar salads are a million times better than house salads in almost every case. Roman Cucina in Dallas is the only exception I’ve found. But this recipe is inspired by all the other cases where a house salad simply won’t do. So try your hand at this chicken Caesar salad dressing recipe for that added homemade touch.
This salad can either be on the side or be the main dish. Served without protein and in smaller portions, it makes a great side salad with nice acidity and flavor. Add protein for a main dish meal. My go-to protein for this dish is chicken. It pairs well with the Caesar dressing, cooks up quickly, and makes for a delicious meal. Add some cheesy garlic bread on the side to round it all out.
As far as salads go, the toppings are fairly tame. Just some croutons, parmesan cheese, and chicken. Most of the heavy lifting is with the recipe for the dressing itself. But that is what gives Caesar its depth of flavor.
Most salad dressings are emulsions of some kind. The basic definition of an emulsion is one liquid suspended within another. The key is that the two liquids don’t truly mix with each other and become one. That is why you end up having to shake up your dressing if it has been sitting in the fridge and has had time to separate. Though there are also some emulsions that are stable and won’t separate – like mayonnaise.
Oil and vinegar are the two common liquids used to make any variety of vinaigrettes. Oil is slowly whisked into vinegar along with other ingredients for flavor and stabilization. There’s a fair amount of science behind it. But you don’t need to know all of those details to experiment in the kitchen. To give a vinaigrette a try, look at my gorgonzola pear salad recipe.
For the Caesar salad dressing recipe, egg yolks, lemon juice, and mustard are the main liquids paired with a combination of olive and canola oils to make the emulsion. Instead of slowly drizzling oil while whisking, this recipe calls for using a blender or food processor to get a smooth, creamy consistency and a good emulsion. It certainly can be done by hand but would be a bit more difficult. In that case, you would want to chop together the anchovy and garlic, whisk everything together except the oil, and then add the oil while whisking.
Making the Caesar Salad Dressing
Yes, this recipe uses anchovies. Most Caesar salad dressings do. Though there are likely some that imitate it without the anchovies. I had not used anchovies at all before this recipe. So it was a new experience buying the little can of oil-packed fillets, taking it home, and opening it up. I expected a powerful fishy smell. But for me it was actually fairly neutral. I added them in with everything else and it came together in a delicious dressing.
For washing and drying the greens for this salad, I highly recommend getting a good salad spinner. The spinning action really helps get the moisture off of the lettuce after washing. This leaves you with perfectly crisp greens that will not have the dressing diluted by water sitting on the leaves.
When marinating the chicken, I recommend letting it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour. And you can make the marinade and let it sit for up to 24 hours in advance. Beyond that, the meat will start to break down and lose its texture.
To really go all-out, you can make your own homemade croutons for this salad. I did not end up doing that this time around and just went with a store-bought option. Essentially the process is to cut up some bread, flavor it, and bake it.
But once the chicken, dressing, lettuce, cheese and croutons all come together, you have a delicious salad. Try making this yourself with the homemade dressing for a salad packed full of flavor.
Chicken Caesar Salad with Homemade DressingCourse: SaladsDifficulty: Moderate
A classic chicken Caesar salad but with the touch of a homemade dressing that’s packed with flavor
- Chicken & Marinade
1 and 1/2 pounds chicken breast
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Dressing & Salad
2 heads romaine lettuce
4 anchovy fillets
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup croutons
1/4 cup parmesan cheese shavings
- Combine all of the ingredients listed under Chicken & Marinade in a large bowl or Ziploc bag, mix together thoroughly, and place it in the fridge to rest for at least an hour and up to 24 hours
- After the chicken has marinated, either grill it or cook it in a frying pan on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes until it is cooked through and the juices run clear
- While the chicken is cooking, chop, rinse, and dry the lettuce
- Make the dressing by putting the anchovies, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, egg yolks, lemon juice, grated parmesan, salt, and pepper into a food processor or blender
- Blitz it together until smooth
- Once that mixture is smooth, turn on the food processor or blender and slowly drizzle the olive oil and the canola oil while it is running
- After all of the oil has been added and mixed into the dressing, turn off the machine and pour the dressing into a serving container
- Slice the cooked chicken into strips for topping the salad
- Assemble the salad with a base of lettuce, chicken, croutons, parmesan cheese shavings, and then top it with the homemade dressing
- Toss the salad together to evenly coat with dressing and then serve