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~ Mel's Classic & Real-Deal Caesar Salad Dressing ~

IMG_1075It is sometimes said that a restaurant is only as good as its Caesar salad and a Caesar salad is only as good as its Caesar dressing.  I happen to be a lover of Caesar salad and I am proud to say that I am a Caesar salad dressing snob.  I want it garlic-y and creamy and I want it to get creamy by using the traditional raw egg.  I want it slightly sweet and savory and while I don't want to see anchovies, I want to taste them.  Truth told, there isn't a bottled version on the planet worth a hoot, don't try to tell me there is, and that includes the trademarked Cardini's brand (which is named after Caesar Cardini who invented the salad and the dressing in 1924).

A classic Caesar salad classically consists of:  crisp romaine lettuce hearts tossed in a creamy garlic dressing, grated Parmesan cheese, a raw or coddled egg, and freshly made croutons. The original salad was made using whole romaine lettuce leaves, which were meant to be picked up by the stem and eaten with your fingers.  The original salad dressing contained just six ingredients:  garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and Parmesan cheese... it did not contain anchovies, but got its slight anchovy flavor from the Worcestershire sauce.  To read more about the history of the Caesar salad and get my recipe for ~ "Hail Caesar" Roasted Chicken Salad a la Mel ~, go to Categories 2, 12 or 19.

Back in the 1980's and '90's, Lemont, a small community just outside of State College proper, had a lovely upscale restaurant named The Victorian Manor.  Let me tell you, "The Manor" made one of the best Casear salads anywhere (and I've tasted them pretty much everywhere). They even prepared the dressing and tossed the salad at tableside, a la Caesar Cardini.  I never once went there that I did not start my meal with their Caesar salad.  While my method of preparing the dressing is different than theirs, as I have no reason for the fanfare of tableside preparation, my recipe is modeled after theirs.  I've added "a little more of this" and "a little less of that", to suit my own taste, plus, I make it in a quantity to comfortably coat a Caesar salad that will feed eight people.  It is truly delicious, easy to make and even people who claim to not like anchovies have asked me to share the recipe with them.  Put down that bottle and give the "real deal" a try!

















1  2-ounce can anchovy fillets (preferably rolled w/capers), well-drained

4-6  medium- large-sized garlic cloves

2  tablespoons red wine vinegar

1  tablespoon sugar

1/4  cup Dijon mustard

2  teaspoons lemon juice, preferably fresh

2-3  teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2  teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

2  jumbo eggs, at room temperature

6-8  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

PICT0315 ~ Step 1. In the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, place the drained anchovies and the whole garlic cloves.









~ Step 2.  Using about 10-15 rapid on-off pulses, process until the anchovies are pasty and the garlic is chopped.










~ Step 3.  Add all of  the remaining ingredients to the anchovy/garlic mixture except for the olive oil.  I repeat:  do not add the oil just yet. Add the:  red wine vinegar, sugar, Dijon, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and eggs.







~ Step 4.  With the motor of the processor running, process the ingredients until they are smooth and frothy, about 10-15 seconds.










~ Step 5.  With the motor running, slowly drizzle all of the olive oil, in a thin stream, through the feed tube, into the mixture. Continue for process for about another 10 seconds.












~ Step 6.  You will have about 1 2/3 cups of Caesar Salad dressing. You can use the dressing immediately but it is better if it has been refrigerated for at least 1 hour prior to serving.  

Transfer dressing to a food storage container and refrigerate until serving time, 1 hour to overnight. Remove it from the refrigerator about 15 minutes prior to tossing into or drizzling on salad. I prefer the latter.


Mel's Classic  & Real-Deal Caesar Salad Dressing":  Recipe yields 1 2/3 cups.   

Special Equipment List:  food processor; 2-cup food storage container w/lid

Cook's Note:  The Caesar salad dressing will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  If you do not have a food processor, this dressing can be made just as easily, using the same method, in a blender.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)


Thanks, Mel. I plan to try it on my two brothers and their wives this weekend - also from State College, but probably never had the salad. Will serve it with the best (local fish market) crab cakes and start with my own fried oysters. Unless it's not obvious, we live near Annapolis, MD. BTW, in the last post, my mistake was referring to the Victorian Manor as VC - should have been VM.

Joe, how great to hear from you... THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU for pointing out this error in my recipe. Ugh. Trust me, it was not intentional. Sometimes, no matter how many times I proofread, something gets lots. I went back into my blog and corrected my mistake! You'll need 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce! Best regards, ~ Mel.

Thanks for this! I grew up in State College and loved the Caesar at the Victorian Manor - that's how I found you - searching for that recipe. I actually sold the owner of the VC the wall paper for her new restaurant when I was going to school at PSU. But that is just filler - I'm really writing to ask about the Worcestershire Sauce. It is mentioned as one of the original ingredients and is pictured in the ingredients, but not listed in the recipe. Should it be included?


Douglas! I can't imagine what would cause it to come out foamy -- especially if you added the oil in a slow, steady, drizzly stream. I've made this too many times to count and that has never happened!

Oops I meant "mine came out foamy..."

Might came out foamy and not very emulsified. I added the oil slowly..

Andrea! My apologies. There are 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar that I, in error, omitted from the ingredients list. I checked the content of the other two recipes on my blog where this dressing is used and it was not omitted in either case. I have just edited this recipe to include my mistake. THANK YOU my dear!!! ~ Mel.


I don't see where it says how much red wine vinegar to add?

Caesar! Thanks for your feedback. It is my philosophy that when it comes to teaching people to cook, a picture really is worth a thousand words!

I like your way to teach this caesar salad recipe. You have explained each step with images, so it's easier for me now.

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