demystifying caesar, the dressing

caesar salad is my favorite salad. it’s not the croutons nor the parm cheese on top (both of which i usually remove) — and don’t give me chicken, shrimp or anchovies. i just love the combination of a light coating of caesar dressing on crisp, fresh romaine lettuce. while it sounds like a simple salad, it has complex flavors. the dressing makes the salad: it’s so hard to describe … it is creamy but not heavy, spicy but not hot, salty but not like salt! i never really bothered to find out what makes the caesar dressing. after all, depending on where you go or which brand you buy, it tastes different! in comes alton brown.

if you have ever watched good eats on food network, you know about alton’s zany personality, his role playing and multiple camera shots (after all, he was a cinematographer and video director). but looking past all the craziness is a plethora of information about food that you wouldn’t necessarily think of asking but there it is — and it’s fascinating! he investigates and shows you all these tidbits about food, ingredients and cooking, and presents it a way that is informative but not preachy. within each episode, there’s usually an “a-ha,” “i didn’t know that” or “wow!” moment.

now, i always knew caesar dressing has oil, eggs and salt. and i’m not surprised by the lemon juice. but did you know it has Worcestershire sauce and that Worcestershire sauce has anchovies? that was my “a ha” and “i didn’t know that!” moment from alton’s show on salads yesterday. he also said that preparation for casear salad should be the building effect. you have to add the ingredients on the lettuce one by one, building the flavor of the salad. and flavor is definitely good eats!


  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, inner leaves only
  • 7 grinds black pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 6 drops Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the eggs and cook for 1 minute. Chill in ice water to halt cooking. Set aside.

In a very large bowl, tear lettuce and toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and the black pepper. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss well. Add the lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Break in the eggs. Toss until a creamy dressing forms. Toss in Parmesan cheese and serve with croutons.

original recipe from Good Eats: Hail Caesar Salad
ingredients in Worcestershire sauce

celebrate 10 years of Alton Brown’s Food Network show with his new book Good Eats The Early Years (informational book, including recipes)

more about Alton Brown


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