Paris is burning. I know, I say that every summer. But we really are suffering this week, with temperatures in the 90s (ugh) and no climatisation (double ugh). As I type this, I’m hiding in my apartment with all the shutters closed, crunching melting ice cubes.
Weather like that calls for food like this: Cold. Raw. Salady. Grilled. Anything that doesn’t involve turning on the stove. I’ve been pretty much subsisting on avocado, or hummus, or both, on toast.
But sometimes it’s nice to cook, especially if the stove isn’t involved. Which is why I’ve found myself making two batches of Caesar salad in the last three days. Garlicky, crunchy, and deeply parmesan-cheesy satisfying, it’s not quite a heat-free recipe because the croutons require toasting. (I know what you’re thinking, but you really do want the homemade croutons — they’re the best part.) I like to make the dressing in a big bowl and then toss the salad in it, and then eat the salad piled high on a plate with maybe some grilled chicken on the side. It’s an unfussy meal that almost makes the canicule pleasurable.
Oh, who am I kidding? [Insert whimper.] I’m dreaming of icebergs.
Adapted from The Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
The original recipe for this salad is meticulously detailed, and well worth the price of the book.
Serves 2 for dinner
For the croutons:
2-3 slices (3-4 oz) chewy, hearty, rough-crumbed bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the salad:
3 gem lettuce hearts (I would use romaine but I can’t find it in France)
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1-2 anchovies, finely chopped (optional)
1 cold egg
1 1/2 ounces Parmagiano-Reggiano, finely grated
1/2 lemon (or more to taste)
Salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cut the bread into cubes, and toss with the olive oil. Toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes until golden and crunchy.
Wash and dry the lettuce and tear into bite-sized pieces. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to toss the salad.
In a large salad bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and anchovies. Add the egg and a sprinkle or two of cheese and a few grinds of pepper. Continue whisking until emulsified and then add the lemon juice, squeezing it through a strainer to catch the seeds. Taste, adding salt and more pepper if necessary. Add the lettuce, parmesan and croutons to the bowl, tossing well until all is well coated. Serve immediately on chilled plates.