Mom’s Lemon Caesar Salad

Oh, hello again!

That brief recess in posting was brought to you by my best friend – Patrice! She came to visit for 5 magnificently lazy days filled with gluttony, bad TV, even worse movies, and some short-lived adventuring in and around Mountain View. We even made up a couple of cocktails! One of which might be worthy of posting, the other… maybe not so much. We also burned things with a kitchen torch. Delicious things.

As soon as I dropped her off at the airport yesterday morning, I was missing home. Good thing I’ll be there in 3 days! Woohoo!

To tide me over until then, I needed to make something from my childhood. Lemony Caesar Salad, perhaps? Why yes! There was a time when my mom made this damn near every night as part of our dinner and I loved it.


spiced bread


I called my mom to get the recipe. We spent several minutes bouncing a series of guesses and approximations off each other as we struggled to remember exactly how this salad was made years ago. I jotted down some notes and set off to experiment.

It tasted just like I remembered – only better. Anchovy paste was replaced with whole fillets, and pre-shredded grocery store brand parmesan cheese was swapped out for large shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano (you have to say that in the Giada voice); I even used organic lettuce. Then there’s the homemade croutons from good quality bread.

ingredients for ceaser salad


Oh. My. Gosh. Heaven. Josh said it was the best caesar salad he’d ever had – and that was after it sat around for a while being photographed!

egg spice mixture for saladThis salad is legit. It has elements of a classic caesar salad – the coddled egg, anchovies – but it’s different. My mom loves lemon, so her version has a good amount of lemon juice, and no mustard or worcestershire to stand in its way.


This is the caesar salad I grew up on – the one all others are compared to. It’s bright and acidic, which explains why I never really liked the super creamy kind. My mom made sure to remind me to put “2-3 garlic cloves” in the recipe, because not everybody loves garlic as much as I do. Yes, mother


lemon ceaser salad served




  • 1 small loaf sourdough bread (10 to 12 ounces)
  • a few sprigs thyme
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil + more for croutons
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 whole anchovy fillets
  • 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice (or more, if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into large pieces
  • parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano) for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the bread into 1 – 1 1/4 inch pieces and place on a baking sheet. Toss together with the thyme, red pepper flakes, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes, tossing once, until toasted and golden brown.
  2. While the croutons are baking, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat, carefully add the egg, and let sit for about a minute. Remove the egg, crack into your serving bowl. Scrape out any of the egg that clings to the shell. Using a fork, mash the anchovies and garlic into the egg in the bowl.
  3. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Whisk to combine. Continue whisking while slowly pouring in the olive oil until well combined. When ready to serve, toss the lettuce and most of the croutons with the dressing. Top with the remaining croutons, large shavings of parmesan, and more black pepper. Serve with the pepper grinder and extra cheese at the table, because you really can’t have enough of either.
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