My family subscribed to the early-nineties school of nutrition that painted cholesterol as a deadly threat. To this day, I have never seen my parents enjoy an egg in its entirety, so my passion for eggs – yolks and all – is still a tiny act of rebellion.
This dressing delivers everything you want from a traditional Caesar, with the added zing of green parsley and garden chives. Be sure to use the best anchovies in the market, as they will be less shy with maximal umami flavour. If you are hesitant about the fishiness, soak the anchovies in warm water for 5 minutes before adding them to the dressing; they will mellow out in the warm bath. Rather than dumping cheese into the dressing itself, I prefer to Microplane pecorino or Parmesan on the salad, making a light, fluffy, and salty finish on top.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
For the dressing
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
5 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
60ml high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
60ml grapeseed oil
For the salad
4 small heads Little Gem lettuce or romaine hearts, trimmed
fancy extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8-10 slices speck or prosciutto de Parma
Parmesan or pecorino cheese (optional)
Make the dressing: In a food processor, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, anchovies, parsley, chives, mustard, and vinegar and blend until the herbs are broken down into small green flecks. Add the oils in a slow stream with the motor running and blend to emulsify. Spoon the dressing into a plastic squeeze bottle or a cup with a pouring spout and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Make the salad: Pull apart the leaves of the lettuces; wash and thoroughly dry and arrange them on a large platter. Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle olive oil over the lettuce, and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a large cast-iron pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the speck in a single layer, working in batches. When the speck contracts and gets crispy, remove it from the pan and set it aside to cool.
To serve, squeeze or drizzle the Caesar dressing generously over the lettuce. Top each serving with a piece of crispy speck, finely grate cheese generously on top, and garnish with parsley. Serve extra dressing on the side if you have leftovers.
Extracted from Salad for President by Julia Sherman (Abrams, approx €30.50), out February 22. Photography © 2016 Julia Sherman.