salad dressing

Viva la Caesar Vinaigrette Dressing

My dear friend CC is passionate about her love of good food and sharing it with friends. I recently sat in an organic cooking class where she made the following announcement:  

Ladies, go to Victoria’s Secret and buy some nice lingerie, then buy a pack of cigarettes, because you are about to have a love affair with this food.

Here I have grilled Romaine and topped it with sliced heirloom tomatoes and shaved Parmesan cheese. The Viva la Caesar Vinaigrette Dressing really complements this variety of flavors.

I felt she was speaking directly to me because I love good food—quality food that has been prepared deliberately + creatively.  I LOVE GOOD FOOD.  

That being said, I struggle with bottled salad dressings. One case in point is Caesar salad dressing. I am underwhelmed by what I find on the shelves. I have tried them all with great anticipation, only to be repeatedly +  flatly disappointed. I was a slave to the bottle until I put my big girl panties on decided to give it a go in the kitchen. After all, it’s not difficult to prepare a fresh + delicious dressing right at home with ingredients that are already in your cupboard, right?

Hence the conception of this Viva la Caesar Vinaigrette Dressing.

The basics of a typical Caesar dressing are olive oil, egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, lemon, dijon mustard, garlic, pepper, and…DA DUM…anchovy.

To anchovy, or not to anchovy? Some of the finer restaurants will serve Caesar salads with beautiful + oily anchovy filets. They are so integral to the deep + umami flavor that some dressing recipes call for an entire tin. But this nugget of info is not always well received. I have seen patrons, when served in such a manner, sit as far back in their chairs as is physically possible, grimace, and demonstratively point to the vertebrate on their plate. I have also witnessed people visibly shudder just with the mere mention of the word anchovy. (I may have been one of those people.) Achovies make people squeamish. (It’s interesting that Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, but I don’t see folks running for the hills about that. Hmph.)

I am here to tell you those diminutive fishies get a bad rap. They actually add a lot of depth to your dressing. So I suggest you use the ol’ smoke + mirrors trick. In lieu of filets, use anchovy paste and quickly whisk it into the dressing. Once the paste is whisked in with the other ingredients, you won’t even think about anchovies. What you will think about is how nutty and complex your dressing is. Tricky, huh?

So here is a trick I tried in this recipe: no egg. Anchovies aside, raw egg in Caesar salad dressing is another one of those things that gives people the heebie-jeebies. In actuality, the lemon will denature the egg—akin to cooking it—so it is no longer raw. I left it out for funzies, just to see if the dressing would work. I must say it is delicious.

There is a wholotta flavor in this Viva la Caesar Vinaigrette Dressing. The honey balances the acids in the dressing. The dash (or two or three) of hot sauce gives it a little zip. The cheese is robust and has a voice of its own. You are on your way to kicking bottled dressings to the curb.

I drizzled this dressing on some grilled Romaine lettuce with some beautiful heirloom tomatoes and shaved Parm, in case you’re wondering what’s going on in these photos.

If you are tossing this in front of a crowd, it is always a nice touch to coat the bowl with a clove of garlic. Yum. The garlic is part of your love affair, by the way.

This tangy Viva la Caesar Vinaigrette Dressing pairs well a dry white wine or rosé….or Champagne

Bon appetit!


If you try this Viva la Caesar Vinaigrette Dressing, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below and tag #nakedepicurean on Instagram so we can celebrate together!

Viva la Caesar Vinaigrette Dressing (1 cup)

  • 1 big, bulging lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons) and zested
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced, plus some to rub in the bowl
  • 2-4 anchovy filets (or as many as you can handle) or 1-2 teaspoons anchovy paste (start small, go big)
  • 1 tablespoon Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2  teaspoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1½  teaspoon Worcestershire
  • ¼  teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 shakes of hot sauce
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste

if using a blender: combine all ingredients and blend until well-combined.

if whisking by hand: whisk all ingredients together except the olive oil. Slowly add olive oil to emulsify. 

if using a jar:  add all ingredients to a jar and shake vigorously.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator. 

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