Pasta, pizza, burger, steak, fries — you name a carb and a Caesar salad fits right in with it. While repeated simplifications to the recipe have turned an average plate of the creamy greens into a passable affair, those who understand the magic of an authentic Caesar salad, swear by it. This iconic eat originated in Tijuana, Mexico courtesy of Italian immigrants dated July 4, 1924. While many attribute credit for the prohibition-era recipe to immigrant restaurateur Caesar Cardini, others believe the recipe originally belonged to Livio Santini’s mother — the lore goes that Livio was a Chef under Cardini and the latter rightly recognised the mammoth potential the salad had and thus bumped it up as an offering across his restaurants north and south of the Mexican border. While the specifics of this lore will potentially remain forever contested, let us redirect our focus to the birthday dish of the day, in all its authentic glory.

The Caesar salad turns 100(Adobe)

The OG Caesar salad recipe

Bon Appétit has no qualms in mincing their words when it comes to showing the door to those who don’t agree with ‘raw egg’ in their Caesar salad. After all, that is the whole essence of it. If done correctly, a true to form Caesar salad will take as little as 20 minutes to whip up, start to finish.

Ingredients: Anchovy fillets in their oil – 6, Garlic clove – 1, (Large) egg yolks – 2, Freshly squeezes lemon juice – 2 tbsps, Dijon mustard – 3/4 tsp, Extra virgin olive oil – 2 tbsps, Vegetable oil – 1/2 cup, Grated parmesan – 3 tbsps, Freshly ground black pepper, Kosher salt to taste; For the croutons — Torn-up bread – 3 cups, Extra virgin olive oil – 3 tbsps, Freshly ground black pepper, Kosher salt to taste; Assembly — Romaine hearts and leaves separated – 3, Parmesan shavings (as much as you’d like!)

Method: Chop the anchovies and garlic with a pinch of kosher salt and add to a bowl. In this, whisk the egg yolks, lemon juice and Dijon mustard followed by the olive oil and vegetable oil. The oils must be added drop by drop to ensure proper emulsification. Mix in the grated Parmesan and salt and pepper. Your dressing must be evidently glossy. For the croutons, pre-heat your oven to 190C. Toss your bread bits in olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 10 to 15 minutes till crisp and golden. Place the romaine hearts and leaves in a single layer, add your Parmesan shavings and croutons and lather on the dressing, massaging it in with your hands. Eat right away.

Vegetarian Caesar salad

Though Caesar salads are everything you need them to be as is, multiple variations in texture has come up over the years. Take this tweaked recipe from Love & Lemons for instance. The method remains the same except that the dressing contains no eggs. Instead, just whisk together Greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, a minced garlic clove, Dijon mustard, capers and black pepper. For the body of the salad, add thinly sliced radishes and 1 1/2 cups roasted chickpeas and some pine nuts to the mix. There is also the option to switch out the Parmesan for Pecorino if you’re looking for a sharper kick of cheese. This recipe is a great option for vegetarians.

Bacon and avocado Caesar salad

Though bacon features nowhere in the original recipe, it has become a quintessential add-on to make a Caesar salad order heartier. The recipe from Gimme Some Oven barely strays from the original, and simply adds bacon and avocado to the mix. The bacon is to be cooked till crisp and then crumbled over the salad, promising to add a meaty and salty kick to the taste payoff. The avocado on the other hand seamlessly blends into the creamy texture of the salad.

Bacon makes for the perfect addition to Caesar salads(Unsplash)
Bacon makes for the perfect addition to Caesar salads(Unsplash)

Kale Caesar salad

In the world of salads, if there is anything that comes in at a close second to lettuce as a base in terms of popularity, it is kale. The Good Food version of this rather popular tweak simply adds in a few kale leaves — first softened with some olive oil and salt. Other atypical detours this recipe takes is adding avocado to the mix and and switching out some of the traditional dressing ingredients with mayonnaise and white vine vinegar.

Kale works well as supplementary green in Caesar salads(Adobe)
Kale works well as supplementary green in Caesar salads(Adobe)

Caesar salad pasta

Pasta salads are all the rage off late, simply for how fun they are. There are no rules and you can use any kind of pasta that your heart desires, though Fusili has been deemed to be an ideal match for a Caesar salad pasta. Other popular additions include roasted and shredded chicken, cherry tomatoes and sliced onions to name a few.

It is worth noting that any kind of protein, be it chicken, shrimps or even boiled eggs can be added to the mix. Additionally, you can easily layer your protein and croutons on sturdy lettuce leaves and munch on your ‘salad’ like a wrap or a sandwich. The possibilities are quite literally endless.

Do you like your Caesar salad classic or with no holds bar?