How To Make a Fancy-Ass Caesar Salad


How to Fancy-Ass Caesar Salad //

I lived in Orange County California until I was around 10 years old. My favorite So Cal memory is going to this restaurant called Souplantaion. I remember thinking it was so 80s, even though we were totally in the 90s. The concept is cafeteria-style make-your-own salads. It’s supposed to be healthy but it’s actually the kind of place for a kid to put a bunch of bacon bits and creamy ranch dressing on a pile of bleached lettuce and call it dinner. I loved it. And I especially loved dessert, which was a killer soft serve bar. Tons of sprinkles were poured on top. Tons of crushed Oreos were added when mama wasn’t looking. I was sneaky.

Up until recently I’ve never been a big salad eater. Now–if I’m at a particularly good restaurant–I’ll always order a salad. Always. A good salad is what dreams are made of. (And this is coming from a girl who loves biscuits.) Too often than not salads are treated like an afterthought for vegetarians. They aren’t properly dressed. The lettuce isn’t dried off properly. The leaves aren’t properly seasoned. That stupid ubiquitous kale salad is always on the menu. I can literally go on and on and on about my salad gripes. I will stop. You didn’t come here to listen to me be a brat about salads. Instead, I’ll share with you a fancy-ass caesar salad. I loooove a good caesar salad. They’re so simple, but so amazing when done correctly.


I think the first step to making good caesar salad is making a good caesar dressing. This requires anchovies.

White anchovies are always the preference, but I couldn’t find them at my fancy grocery store, so I used the normal ones, which were just as good.

The dressing is a mix of minced anchovies, olive oil, loads of garlic, Parmesan-Reggiano and a good amount of pepper.

I was going to take a picture of the anchovies all mashed up in my mortar and pestle but it looked like cat food and I got scared you wouldn’t like me anymore.

SO WARNING! It will look like cat food! Just keep it moving; you won’t end up seeing it in the end anyway.


Important side note: dogs LOVE anchovies. Their breath will smell terribly afterward. So will yours. Match made in heaven.

Croutons are important. I love browning some butter, adding a bit of olive oil, garlic and salt; and then pan sautĂ©ing the cubed bread until they’re a pretty golden brown.

I particularly like the flavor of char. I like grilling the whole head or romaine lettuce, then taking it apart a little, dressing it and then putting it back together.

The rest is pretty simple. Little more Parmesan cheese on top, more black pepper, croutons and that’s it!

P.S. Like fancy-ass dishes? Here are a few other “fancy” posts from the past: Fancy-Ass BLT and Fancy-Ass Tuna Melt.


How To Make a Fancy-Ass Caesar Salad

Print this recipe!

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 slices of old bread (I have a weakness for sourdough), cut into 1-inch by 1-inch cubes

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 anchovy (white or other is cool)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan-Reggiano, plus more for garnish
4 heads of romaine lettuce

1. To a medium skillet, add the butter and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the butter is a light brown color and the foam has begun to subside. Pour in the olive oil, add a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper and the garlic. Cook for an additional minute, until the garlic is fragrant and delicious. Add the cubed bread and cook on each side for 1-2 minutes, until the bread turns a pretty golden brown color. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. To a small bowl, add the olive oil and garlic cloves; whisk until combined. Mash the anchovies in a mortar and pestle until they resembles a paste. Add the anchovies to the bowl, along with the egg. Whisk vigorously, until the mixture is emulsified. Squeeze in the lemon juice, being sure to catch any seeds and discard. Add about 1 tablespoon of Parmesan-Reggiano. Salt and pepper to taste. (I added about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper.)

3. Brush a grill pan with olive oil and place it over high heat. When hot, add the heads of romaine, charring them on all sides. Carefully transfer them to a cutting board. Cut off the stem and discard. Using a brush or your hands, rub the leaves with the caesar dressing. Transfer to a plate and top with croutons, black pepper and Parmesan-Reggiano.

Serves 4 as a meal; Serves about 6 as a salad appetizer


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  • Reply Belinda @themoonblushbaker September 16, 2013 at 1:50 am

    Gosh the number of times I have seen the Caesar salad in its glory ( like yours) and the fails (my University cafe) I also number order salads when out, only if I am feeling particular full.
    I think I have also seen a caesar salad that made a custard out of the dressing and topped with parmesen crisps. Now that is too fancy but yours is great for the everyday person.

  • Reply Connie September 16, 2013 at 1:53 am

    Whoa, fancy ass indeed with the romaine grilling.

  • Reply Elisa @ Insalata di Sillabe September 16, 2013 at 2:50 am

    I have a huge passion for salads and Caesar Salad is definitely among my favorites! But – I feel ashamed to admit it – I didn’t know the proper seasoning required anchovies in it! Now I literally can’t wait to try it out with your twists, I’m sure it’ll be even more delicious!

    xo, Elisa

  • Reply Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar September 16, 2013 at 3:25 am

    This fancy-ass series is so fun! Love this salad 🙂

  • Reply Erin September 16, 2013 at 3:36 am

    That looks incredible!! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Tieghan September 16, 2013 at 5:24 am

    To be honest, I have been afraid of Cesar salad every since I hate bad one at champs years ago. Let’s just say it was good going down, but not coming back up. I have not had one since, but making my own? That I can totally get on board with. This looks awesome!

  • Reply Stella September 16, 2013 at 6:17 am

    Charred romaine? Genius!! This looks delicious.

  • Reply Ali @ Inspiralized September 16, 2013 at 6:25 am

    LOVE this! I really like charring romaine… adds such flavor and crunch. Great recipe, can’t wait to try it out!

  • Reply Bev @ Bev Cooks September 16, 2013 at 6:51 am

    My face just fell off.

  • Reply Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) September 16, 2013 at 7:33 am

    I love a good Caesar salad! This looks wonderful–love your “fancy-ass” posts 🙂

  • Reply dishing up the dirt September 16, 2013 at 8:07 am

    I love a good Caesar Salad! Anchovies are a must. Looks fabulous.

  • Reply Aura September 16, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Hello Adrienne:
    Great recipe and love you charred the romaine. Now I would like to know if you used the whole egg or only the yolk? Usually the recipe for the Caesar dressing calls for yolks not whole egg.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme September 16, 2013 at 9:31 am

      It’s actually the whole egg. This will result in a more pourable dressing. I’ve tried versions with just the egg yolk and I’ve always felt that they were too much like an aioli, too thick.

  • Reply Sharon September 16, 2013 at 9:30 am

    This looks like that it came right out of a fancy-ass restaurant!!! What a fabulous salad! !!! Too awesome!

  • Reply Sarah Crowder (punctuated. with food) September 16, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Sounds like a PROPER caesar to me – anchovies and homemade croutons ftw.

  • Reply Brittany September 16, 2013 at 10:04 am

    A good caesar salad is totally one of the best things life has to offer. And this one is completely legit, I love it!!

  • Reply Stu Borken September 16, 2013 at 10:30 am

    This is the classic Caesar dressing. It is wonderful. The char on the lettuce is something new and having had it recently, it is a wonderful addition.

  • Reply allie@sweetpotatobites September 16, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Being an OC kid myself I totally grew up going to Souplantation. The soft serve! And the delicious blueberry muffins, oh man.

    Love the idea of a grilled caesar salad!

  • Reply Emily@TotesDelishy September 16, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Souplantation maybe the best (worst?) name for a restaurant ever. I am imagining a Southern mansion with soup bowls growing in rows in the yard.
    Yum! Know what I’ll be craving all day!

  • Reply Sarah September 16, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I love your blog and all your fancy-ass posts. You’re an inspiration to me. My ass just wants to be fancier now, and with this salad in the mix, it likely will be.

  • Reply Anna Marie Flaherty September 16, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Grilling the lettuce sounds great, do you think you could get the same effect charring the lettuce over the stove top instead of a grill pan?

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme September 16, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      Yes, I’d actually just rub the heads of romaine with olive oil and then place them on the grate of your gas stove. Just like you’d do with a pepper. I’ll work great!

  • Reply Jamie @lifelovelemons September 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Ohhh you fancy!! But seriously, this looks delicious!

  • Reply Becki's Whole Life September 16, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Yum….. I agree that a good dressing is key to a good caesar salad – and anchovies are a must!

  • Reply Tracy | Peanut Butter and Onion September 17, 2013 at 6:18 am

    Love when things are fancy-ass.

  • Reply Bee September 17, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I absolutely love your blog! I found it recently and have to say that it is amazing!
    I love the “fancy-ass” title! So down to earth!
    I made a post about you, would be really cool if you could check it out!
    Lots of Love,

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme September 17, 2013 at 10:33 am

      I just took a look and you’re so super SWEET! Thank you! XOXO

  • Reply erin @ yummy supper September 17, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Adrianna, I’m a big fan of this Fancy-Ass series! Maybe your next book?
    And yes to Caesars, which as SO good when done right. I was cracking up at your cat food description – you nailed that one. Looks so bad, but tastes so good.
    I hope all is well with you!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme September 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm

      Ha! A whole Fancy-Ass book? That’d be so fun. Hope you’re well, too! x

  • Reply Cass @foodmyfriend September 18, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    That is a fancy ass salad! Love the way balsamic looks over fresh cos <3

  • Reply Kasey September 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    OMG! Souplantation!! I used to go there in San Diego (there’s an equivalent in Norcal which I’m not sure exists anymore called Fresh Choice). Ahh, the memories…

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme September 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      I’ve been wanting to go–just as like a joke, but can’t. I just can’t. I’ve been wanting to go back to Sizzler too!

  • Reply Weekend Finds 9:21:13 | Serious Crust Serious Crust September 22, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    […] And I always wish I made caesar salad more often myself, but I can never quite get that fancy feel. A Cozy Kitchen’s new post teaches how to make your own dressing, croutons, etc. to make the perfect […]

  • Reply NeenAnn September 26, 2013 at 6:51 am

    Best one I’ve had was a Lydia’s in Kansas City. I couldn’t get enough. In fact, I asked for seconds of the salad, rather than the pasta tasting for lunch one day. Caesar is amazing, and it does take anchovies. Thanks for a recipe. Can’t wait to try this out!

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    […] to help me like salad at a young age, and I’m totally okay with it. I have big plans to make this fancy caesar salad, but that link has been bookmarked for somewhere around forever. I’ll get to it one […]

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