On day two of the fridge-emptying exercise I decided to use up the roasted chicken. Whereas a packet of feta will last a lifetime, or near as dammit, a rotisserie bird, even from a reliable supermarket like Waitrose, isn’t quite so forgiving. And, since I also have some romaine lettuce (long-leaved and crunchy), Parmesan, anchovies, stale bread and, what’s more, it’s still madly sunny in London, well, Caesar salad was the obvious choice.
The basic Caesar recipe involves crisp, green lettuce (not iceberg…) with an anchovy and egg yolk dressing, croutons and shavings of Parmesan. Some recipes, like Donna Hay‘s, include bacon but a more common addition is cooked chicken or fresh anchovies. It’s a great fridge standby because even if you just have stale bread, a head of lettuce and some Parmesan, you’ll get somewhere close to the real thing. But the proper dressing, if you can be faffed to make it, will transform it.
Chicken Caesar salad
You will need (for two people)
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
2 slices stale (as in day-or-two-old dry not blue with mould) white bread, cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil (non virgin is fine for this bit)
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
1 egg yolk (used raw in the dressing: someone once told me that you can use a hard-boiled egg yolk if you can’t eat raw eggs. I’ve not tested this idea but it might be worth a try)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 head of romaine lettuce (I find a good couple of handfuls is enough per person, but it obviously depends on the size of your appetite and your hands…)
Some cooked chicken, again a good handful per person, so about 100-150g
1 tsp dry mustard powder
2 anchovy fillets, from a tin or a jar, chopped up
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (I find this is about half a squeezed lemon)
2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan), gas 4.
2. Wash the lettuce leaves and leave to drain. Once drained, either leave them whole or chop them up.
3. Cut the bread into dice-sized cubes and toss in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (non-virgin is fine for this bit) and 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper then put on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 5-10 minutes until nicely golden and crisp.
4. Whilst the bread is crouton-ing, make the dressing. Put the egg yolk in a bowl big enough to whisk in, add 1 teaspoon of dry mustard powder, two chopped up anchovy fillets and 1 crushed clove of garlic. Give it a good stir until well mixed together then add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Again, stir it well and then add a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil and whisk it in. Keep adding the oil slowly and whisking after each addition until you have a thickened, yellow-ish sauce (you’ll probably need about 2½ tablespoons of oil). Season to taste.
5. Put the salad leaves in a bowl, sprinkle over some Parmesan shavings (which means bits cut randomly from the block rather than anything too neat) then add the chopped cooked chicken and croutons. Finally, pour over the dressing and toss the lot together.