As the greens fade to black, there's Kale, reaching out from the spoils of Summer's garden. The heartiness of this robust earthy green does well with the clinging viscosity of a truly traditional caesar dressing. Kale meet garlicy, parmesany umami.
Dress your kale well. Don't try to spread the dressing too thin, and dress it 30 minutes or so before you plan to dine. This will soften kale's hard bitter edges and bring out her sweetness. This recipe for caesar dressing can be used for the traditional Romaine lettuce too. I like it more for kale though! It has been our family favourite - out of this same bowl pictured in the photo - since I was born. I love this bowl's story actually, it was a gift at my Aunt and Uncle's wedding, just 2 weeks before I was born. What is the saying? Blood runs thicker than water? In our case, well, Caesar dressing runs thicker than water. This dressing runs the course of my life, from my Aunt's kitchen straight to you now.
The recipe will dress a salad for 6 if you have around 8-10 medium kale leaves (or a head of Romaine lettuce). Like many dressings, it will keep in the fridge for a good while.
My aunt's recipe card, circa my birth year, 19771 clove garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 egg, coddled (the quick method below)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp freshly ground pepper (4 or 5 turns of your pepper mill)
8-10 leaves of kale (or one head of Romaine lettuce)
*Optional - Croutons (see method below)
*Optional - 1/3 cup sunflowers or pumpkin seeds or crumbled walnuts
About the egg: General knowledge on eggs - keep your eggs on the counter. There isn't any reason to refrigerate eggs. Back to the egg, for our Caesar purposes. Boil a few cups of water, in a pot or in your kettle. Put your room temperature egg in a bowl. A cereal bowl will do. Pour the boiling water over the egg and let it sit, while you prepare the rest of the dressing ingredients.
Place the garlic, olive oil, salt, dry mustard, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and pepper in your blender/food processor. Turn it on to a low speed so you don't "whip" the ingredients. This ruins the viscosity and flavour of the oil. Once its all together, empty water from the bowl and crack your coddled egg over it, to release the very lightly cooked egg. Add the egg to the dressing mixture, and very briefly give it a few turns with your blender. The dressing is ready.
Using a nice sharp knife, gather up your kale leaves in groups of 3 or 4, and very finely shred the leaves. Slice shreds of 1/8 in. to 1/4 in. in width. This is the best way to enjoy kale in my opinion.
Put the kale in a big bowl and dress it amply, using all the dressing. Add your cup of grated parmesan, and your optional sunflower seeds, pumpkins or walnut pieces. At this stage your salad is already delicious.
If you want to add croutons, here's the method:
Turn the oven on to 225 degrees. Slice up a loaf of good bread. I suggest ciabatta or a traditional white sourdough. Both have good flavour and air pockets. Cut the slices in your desired crouton shape. I like 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch pieces. Toss the bread cubes in a bowl and drizzle with 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp of thyme. Taste a piece. Adjust as needed. It will depend on the loaf size you started with. Place all the crouton pieces onto a baking sheet and bake until they're crisp. Keep checking on them every 10 minutes. These will keep in an airtight container for a couple of weeks. Add them to your salad as you like! I like lots, like 2 or 3 cups full. Enjoy!