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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Oaxacan Caesar Salad

The big substitution here is a serrano chili for anchovies.  Heat instead of unami, but it works.  Dress the salad lightly, and save the leftover dressing for another night.  It is a great accompaniment to a Mexican dinner.  Adapted from Rick Bayless.

The Dressing
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 fresh serrano chile, stemmed and halved
  • Zest of 1-2 limes
  • 1 egg
  • Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon
The Croutons
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups stale bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
The Salad
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce torn into bit sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup finely crumbled Mexican queso añejo or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 c. toasted pepitos
  • 1-2 avocados diced
1. The dressing. Combine 1/2 cup of the olive oil plus all other dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender and process one full minute. Scrape into a small bowl and slowly whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Taste and add more salt if you think necessary.
2. The croutons. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees. In a small (1- to 1 1/2-quart) saucepan, combine the 1/4 cup olive oil and the garlic. Set over the lowest heat and stir every now and again until the garlic is very soft, about 20 minutes. While the garlic is cooking, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until completely crisp and dry, about 20 minutes. Gently mash the garlic in the oil to extract as much flavor as possible, then pour the oil through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl. Toss the oil with the bread cubes to coat evenly, return to the oven and bake until nicely golden, about 5 more minutes.
3. Finishing the salad. In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce and a bit of dressing. Toss to coat thoroughly, adding more dressing if needed. Add the croutons, cheese,  avocado, cilantro and pepitas and toss again. 

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