Wednesday, April 27, 2022

"Real" Caesar Salad by @LeslieKarst

The word “real” appears in quotes because this is not, in fact, a truly authentic Caesar salad. As originally concocted back in Tijuana in the 1920s, the salad was prepared at a table in front of the patron in a grand show of fuss: rubbing raw garlic around the inside of a wooden bowl, drizzling the liquid ingredients into the bowl, and then adding the lettuce, coddled eggs, grated cheese, and croutons, and tossing it all together. (Anchovies didn’t become a part of the recipe until some time later.)


My recipe, in contrast, calls for preparing the dressing in advance, which makes it far easier as a dinner party dish. But I still call the salad “real” because—unlike most Caesars you find in restaurants—it uses coddled eggs, which to my mind are what makes the salad worthy of its name.

The recipe may look complex, but the croutons, dressing, and lettuce can all be prepared in advance. (Wash and tear up the lettuce, wrap it in a paper towel and place it in a plastic bag until time to dress the salad.)

"Real" Caesar Salad

(serves 4)


7 tablespoons (a little under ½ cup) extra virgin olive oil

2 cups French bread, cut into ½” cubes

1 medium-size clove garlic

1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 1 anchovy fillet

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Dijon style mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 eggs in their shells, at room temperature

2 hearts of Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces

½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese


Make the Croutons

Toss the bread cubes with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, and bake on a baking sheet in a 375° F oven until golden-brown (10-15 minutes), tossing occasionally to prevent burning. The croutons can be made several days in advance; just put them in an airtight plastic bag once cooled and freeze until an hour before service.


Make the Dressing

Chop the garlic until fine (or put it through a press), then add the anchovy and mash together until it forms a paste. Scrape the paste into a small mixing bowl, and add the sugar, black pepper, mustard, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce, and combine till smooth. Slowly drizzle in the rest of the olive oil (4 tablespoons), mixing all the while with a wire whisk until well blended. (Adding a teaspoon of water at the end helps to emulsify the mixture.) You can let this sit on the countertop until time to dress the salad, but give it a good whisk before using. (It can also be kept in the fridge if made the day before, but be sure to let it come back up to room temperature before using.) 


Coddle the Eggs

A few minutes before you want to serve the salad, get a small saucepan of water (enough to cover the eggs) simmering on the stove. Using a large spoon, place the eggs into the simmering water (being careful not to crack their shells) and let them cook for 1 to 1½ minutes. Pour the hot water out of the pan and, leaving the eggs in, refill with cold water to stop the cooking process. 


Compose the Salad

Place the lettuce in a salad bowl, and toss with the dressing. Then, holding the eggs one at a time in the palm of your hand, crack them in two with a butter knife, and use a teaspoon to spoon the egg into the salad. (Pour the yolk over the lettuce, and then break the white of the egg into small pieces with the spoon as you scoop it out of the shell.) Toss again, to mix in the egg evenly. 



If you are serving individual salads, plate up the dressed egg/lettuce mixture, and then distribute the cheese and croutons evenly between the plates. Otherwise, add the cheese and croutons to the large bowl and and give the salad one final toss before serving. Finish with freshly-ground black pepper. (See photo at top.)


🍃  🍴 🌱   

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. Putting this early education to good use, she now writes the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari Mysteries, a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California.

An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i.

Leslie’s website
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THE FRAGRANCE OF DEATH, coming Aug. 2, 2022, 

is now available for pre-order!



Praise for Leslie's most recent Sally Solari mystery, the Lefty Award-nominated MURDER FROM SCRATCH:

“Karst seasons her writing with an accurate insider’s view of restaurant operation, as well as a tenderness in the way she treats family, death and Sally’s reactions to Evelyn’s blindness.”

Ellery Queen Magazine (featured pick)

All five Sally Solari Mysteries are available through AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Bookshop.


Dying for a TasteA Measure of Murder, and Murder from Scratch are also available as AUDIOBOOKS from Audible!


  1. Many years ago we ate at The Manor in the Oranges in NJ. They served Caesar salad made at the table. It was a marvelous presentation.
    Since then we have been served "Caesar" salads that included all sorts of inappropriate items, like sliced tomato!
    Thanks for an approachable "real" salad.

    1. You're so welcome, Libby! The only place I've ever had a true Caesar salad made at the table has been in Mexico on several occasions, and they were superb!

  2. Ooh, yum! Those coddled eggs look great!