Like Brutus in the Roman Forum on that fateful Ides of March the ubiquitous Caesar Salad came out of the least expected place. Not a traditional Italian dish never to be found on any true restaurant menu in Italy, its name often associates it with Italian cuisine.
The salad was originally created in 1924 by Caesar Cardini at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico. Cardini immigrated to California from Italy’s Lake Region after World War I. Cardini relocated his San Diego restaurant to Tijuana when Prohibition left a gap in the cocktail dining crowd.
Gastromythology tells the story that the salad was created on a busy summer weekend at Caesar’s restaurant with what was on hand and tossed at the table for effect. Popularized by celebrity diners traveling across the border (Clark Gable and Jean Harlow where said to enjoy it) Cardini’s Caesar Salad became a signature dish and was once voted by the International Society of Epicures in Paris as the “greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in fifty years.”
So the salad of Caesar gets its drama not from the Roman forum but from the streets of Tijuana via an Italian immigrant with Italian sprezzatura. Over the years the recipe has evolved into many adaptations.
Here is one.
Caesar Salad Skewers
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 (2 ounce) tin anchovies, drained
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 heart of romaine, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1-inch strips
16 cherry tomatoes
Freshly ground pepper
For the dip. In a blender, combine the mayonnaise, 1 cup of cheese, lemon juice, anchovies, mustard, vinegar, garlic and Worcestershire sauce. Blend on high until thick and creamy, about 20 seconds. Place the dip in a bowl and top with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cheese.
Divide the romaine strips evenly among 16 skewers and thread them onto the skewers through their center rib, keeping them close to the tip. Top each skewer with a cherry tomato, garnish with pepper and top with a crouton. Serve with the Caesar dressing dip.