Let's be honest: People don't order a Caesar salad for the romaine. The crisp lettuce may be a perfect blank canvas for those garlicky, lemony and umami-packed flavours, but Caesar salad fixings, particularly the dressing, can work wonders on all of your favourite salads.
Photo: Claire Lower
After an E. Coli outbreak scare in the US, many were wary of using cos lettuce - which mean Caesar salads dropped off the menu. It doesn't have to be that way though. The bright side is that the US crisis has given us a wonderful opportunity to talk about three other plant parts that make really excellent Caesars.
I'm talking all the greats: Potato salad, macaroni salad, chicken salad and even devilled eggs; all of these potluck classics are fantastic vessels for the that last bit of Caesar dressing, whether it's store-bought or homemade.
You can add a spoonful or two to an existing recipe, or do a full swap and dress the entire salad with it, depending on how much you have. A little goes a long way, so add it one tablespoon at a time, and taste as you go.
If you really want to maximise the Caesar-ness of your dish - and who wouldn't - invite Parmesan, black pepper and bonito flakes to the bowl. The dried, cured tuna flakes not only look like pretty pink petals, but they add an anchovy-like quality to the salad without adding any oil (or scaring the children).
If putting Caesar dressing on a potato salad makes you nervous, try this one on for size:
Caesar Potato Salad
- 900g small, waxy potatoes, cut in half
- 2 cups croutons
- 1/4 cup of Caesar dressing
- 1/4 cup Parmesan
- 3 tablespoons bonito flakes (optional)
- Black pepper
- Chives (to get some green on there)
Add the potatoes to a pot of cold, salted water, and bring it to a boil. Cook until they can be easily pierced with a fork (about 8-12 minutes). Drain the potatoes, and shock them in an ice bath to cool. Once cooled, combine potatoes, dressing and cheese in a large bowl, and toss to coat.
Give it a taste. If it needs more dressing, Parmesan, or even a squeeze of lemon, go ahead and doctor it. Once it tastes how you want it, transfer it to a serving bowl and top with the remaining ingredients.