My husband’s favorite salad of all time is my version of a Caesar salad but I make it with escarole instead of romaine because it is heartier and slightly bitter. With raw anchovy dressing made out of raw egg yolks and anchovy, it really packs a punch and satisfies both our larger than life palates.
I hand tear the escarole and use as is or I will grill the escarole, quartered with core intact to keep it fairly together and I char it lightly to get a smoky flavor. The dressing is an emulsion of raw egg yolk and olive oil, 3 to 4 anchovy filets, white wine vinegar (or lemon), 2 to 3 garlic cloves and a handful of parsley. The salad is topped with shredded raw sheep pecorino; not an everyday salad, for sure but sometimes we’ll have a family sized salad bowl each, share a bottle of wine and call it a day. (chocolate doesn’t count)
But Natalia has a great raw Caesar dressing in one of her earlier books that I recently fell in love with again. I revised it a bit and added a Japanese twist. The recipe is as follows:
• 3 to 4 stalks celery, roughly chopped
• 2 to 3 garlic cloves
• 1 tablespoon of miso (I like the mild white miso)
• Juice of 1 to 2 lemons
• Drizzle of olive oil if desired (it was in the original recipe as well and although not necessary, it does bind the dressing very nicely, making it smooth and glossy)
• Sea salt/ pepper to taste
I add crushed toasted nori flakes or even better, 2 ounces of hijiki seaweed. Hijiki is available dried and you rehydrate it in water. Let it sit for 15 minutes, drain and season with salt and pepper before use. This dressing is rich and creamy and the miso and garlic combination is a complete knock off of anchovies without it being too overwhelming. Romaine, green leaf or red leaf lettuce all work equally fine in this recipe.
If you opt for this salad, make miso glazed eggplant as the main entrée. Look for Japanese or Italian eggplants, cut in half and smear it with a thin layer of miso (add a bit of water to thin it out and a drop of stevia to balance out the miso) and a sprinkle of chopped scallions. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
A roasted Japanese yam for dessert will really make this meal complete. (I scrub the yams and cut into ½ inch rounds and dry roast in oven at the same time as the eggplants; taste like chewy cookies!)