A family legend told by salad dressing mogul Rosa Cardini begins on Independence Day 1924 in the busy kitchen of Caesar’s restaurant in San Diego. Cardini’s father, Caesar, was running low on ingredients, so he “decided to cobble together a salad from leftovers, including romaine lettuce, olive oil, raw egg, garlic, Parmesan cheese and Worcestershire sauce. The dressing was originally mixed at the table and used to coat the lettuce leaves, which were presented stem outwards so that it could be eaten with the fingers, in the time-honoured Italian fashion,” according to Rosa Cardini’s 2003 obituary in London’s The Telegraph.
The new dish was named for its creator, and became quite popular in Hollywood as well as around the world. “In 1953, a toque of Paris’s leading chefs pronounced it to be America’s greatest contribution to world cuisine, a judgement of which Rosa Cardini was very proud.”
Chef Carrie Summer of Chef Shack in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Bay City, Wisconsin tossed romaine lettuce, watercress and radicchio to create her simple Caesar. It’s garnished with anchovies and finished with Parmesan cheese and classic Caesar dressing.
Recipe: Caesar Salad Dressing
“Classic Caesar salad has been around for so long, there’s lots of interpretations,” says Summer. “I love that it has a classic fabled history including a tableside version.”
Summer wanted to transform that classic recipe into something high-end and sophisticated — something that would have all the flavor and elements of a Caesar salad, but look more like a dessert. “The modern look was quite tight and compact with less on the plate,” she says. A Parmesan frico tops the careful plating while a dollop of Caesar dressing on the side finishes the look.