Recipe Review

This Caesar Salad Recipe Is Simple & Classic — And I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way

published Dec 15, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Headshot: Bachrach/GettyImages

When Julia Child was a tween, she and her parents traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, and dined at Cardini’s. It was there that she experienced her first Caesar salad. Her experience was very similar to mine at the Hotel del Coronado. A server came up to the table — in her case, it was Caesar Cardini himself — and prepared the salad in the dining room as she and her family watched. In this dramatic effect that you rarely see today, the salad becomes not just a thing you eat, but something you experience.

Many years later, Julia would acquire the original recipe from Caesar’s daughter, Rosa. The recipe features whole romaine hearts and garlic-infused croutons, and uses a coddled egg, lemon juice, and a splash of Worcestershire sauce in the dressing. The whole thing is topped off with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

The most notable aspect of this recipe is that it does not include anchovies, and that’s because they weren’t used in Cardini’s original version. Instead, the recipe relies on the garlic, Parmesan, and Worcestershire sauce to bring in the savory flavors.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Headshot: Bachrach/GettyImages

How to Make Julia Child’s Caesar Salad Recipe

Remove and separate the light green leaves from two romaine hearts, then wash and dry. Keep them crisp in the refrigerator while you make the croutons and prepare the dressing.

Crush the garlic clove with the back of a chef’s knife, then sprinkle with salt. Mince the garlic, pour olive oil over top, then mash and press the garlic with your knife until you have a paste. Scrape the paste into a medium or large skillet along with more olive oil. Warm the mixture over medium-low heat, then add plain toasted croutons and toss until the bread is coated in the garlic oil.

Pierce a tiny hole in the large end of one egg. Cook the egg in gently simmering water for 1 minute. When you’re ready to eat, make sure to have the coddled egg, one seeded and halved lemon, and Worcestershire sauce ready to go.

Gently toss and coat the whole romaine leaves with olive oil. Season the leaves with salt and pepper, then squeeze the juice from the lemon and drizzle on some Worcestershire sauce and toss again. Taste and season as needed.

Crack the coddled egg and drop it onto the romaine mixture. Gently toss until the leaves are coated in the egg. Add the croutons and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and toss once more. Arrange the leaves on a platter and serve!

Credit: Amelia Rampe

My Honest Review of Julia Child’s Caesar Salad Recipe

When I tasted this recipe, I was immediately transported back to The Crown Room at the Hotel de Coronado. I didn’t miss the anchovies at all! The texture of the dressing and the gentle balance of flavors reminded me why this original iteration became a classic. It was my favorite Caesar salad of all the ones I tried.

The light texture of the dressing means it doesn’t overwhelm the lettuce. It’s far more elegant than the clunky (but delicious) dressing from Serious Eats. And even though I absolutely love the croutons from the Serious Eats recipe, I found the flavor to be on the dominant side, overpowering the salad itself. Julia’s croutons were light and balanced, and complementary to the overall flavor. Next time, I’ll make an extra-big batch, because I found myself wanting even more.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Making Julia Child’s Caesar Salad, a Few Tips

  1. Prep your lettuce first. Make sure your lettuce is washed and dried before you start making the rest of the salad components. This will bring ease to your table-side drama!
  2. Serve it to guests. This is a great salad to make when you want to impress your guests. Prepare the salad table-side and they will be dazzled! While this sounds difficult, it’s just a few ingredients that get gently tossed in a bowl. I personally love that extra touch, and so will your guests.
  3. Swap out the dressing, if meal prepping. Not making the dressing table-side? Or trying to eat Caesar salad throughout the week? Try making a batch of Serious Eats’ Caesar dressing and keep it stored in the fridge for a week. You can dress your salad with quickness and ease.

.Overall rating: 10/10

Have you tried Julia Child’s Caesar Salad recipe? Let us know in the comments!