Mark Greenaway recipe: Caesar salad

Mark Greenaway's Caesar salad. Picture: Paul Johnston

Mark Greenaway's Caesar salad. Picture: Paul Johnston

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THE temperatures in Edinburgh soared this week. Hot summer days call for light dishes so this week I am sharing my recipe for Caesar Salad.

Caesar Salad is a traditional favourite. Its origin is perhaps not what is assumed. The salad’s creation is attributed to Italian restaurateur Caesar Cardini, who was living in San Diego. His daughter Rosa recounted that her father invented the dish when on July 4, 1924 a rush depleted the kitchen’s supplies. Cardini made do with what he had, adding the dramatic flair of the table-side assembly by the chef.

I have updated this much-loved dish with additions of truffle, melba toast and crispy pancetta. Of course the truffle is an optional extra but worth it if you can get your hands on some!

These updated additions are not the only difference. All is not as it seems with this Caesar Salad as many of the elements are hidden between the leaves with just a few added on top for garnish. This guarantees that every mouthful is full of flavour. This presentation makes it a really attractive starter or side dish.

The key to a good Caesar Salad is fresh, crisp lettuce and a punchy, moreish dressing. The method of making the dressing is very similar to making mayonnaise. The trick to making an emulsion sauce such as this is to add the oil slowly. The dressing will only curdle if the oil is added too quickly at the beginning.

If that happens, don’t panic! All you need to do is pour the mixture into a bowl, clean your blender, add a fresh egg yolk to the blender and slowly add the curdled mixture to the yolk while the blender is running. Then continue adding the rest of the oil as though nothing has happened.

Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the dressing

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

½ clove garlic, crushed

5 anchovies

½ lemon, juice

300ml rapeseed oil

1 tbsp. chopped parsley

50g parmesan, finely grated

For the melba toast

1 slice of white bread, crusts removed

Oil for frying

For the crispy pancetta

8 slices pancetta

For the salad

2 baby gem lettuces, halved

Parmesan shavings

Truffle, thinly sliced

Method

For the dressing

Place the egg, egg yolk, garlic, mustard, anchovies and lemon juice in a blender.

Blend these ingredients together.

While it is blending, drizzle in the oil slowly till it is emulsified to a thick mayonnaise.

Fold through the parmesan and parsley.

Refrigerate until required.

For the crispy pancetta

Place the pancetta under a hot grill until crispy and golden.

While it is still hot, cut it into squares and leave to cool.

For the melba toast

In a pasta machine, pass the bread through each size setting twice until you reach the thinnest setting.

Cut the bread into small triangles.

Deep fry at 180C until golden brown.

Drain on kitchen paper.

To serve

Wash the lettuce between the individual leaves under running water while keeping the stems intact.

Place some of each element between the leaves making sure you are generous even though they will be hidden.

Top each lettuce half with the remaining elements to garnish.