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Romaine Hearts with Caesar Salad Dressing

 I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like a cold, fresh caesar salad.  Few things go better with steak or a big bowl of pasta.  Most bottled caesar dressings are more vinegar & oil based versus the real deal which is made with eggs, olive oil, anchovies, and other wonderful bits.  I’ve experimented with different authentic caesar dressing recipes over the years, and I find they never turn out quite right.  Maybe it’s because I’m afraid of the 1/2 cup of oil they call for… or I worry that my eggs aren’t fresh enough.  So when I stumbled on this version, deliciously served at a fabulous restaurant for years, I had to try it.  The secret ingredient: mayo and no eggs.  And it’s full of other surprises (like using grated pecorino romano NOT parmesan.)

I slightly modified this recipe to suit what I had on hand and to keep the calories down.  I also included my quick homemade croutons recipe below.

First some minced garlic and a teaspoon of anchovy paste (you can substitute 2 minced anchovy fillets.)  Whisk well to combine.

Now add all of the other ingredients, whisking as you go.  Don’t be afraid to add the water as called for–you’ll need it.  And lots of fresh cracked black pepper.

Now add chopped romaine leaves (or leave the leaves whole, if you have a giant bowl to mix it in.)  Throw on some homemade croutons, more pepper and cheese, and serve on cold plates.

A note on cold plates: this simple step will make all of your salads taste better.  Just pop your serving plates or bowls in the freezer about 20 minutes before serving.  The greens will remaine more crisp and it will make the restaurant-style caesar even more authentic.

Romaine Hearts with Caesar Salad Dressing

– serves 4 to 6 –

Adapted from The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual by Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo.


3 hearts of romaine (pull away the floppiest, greenest outer leaves)
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus additional cheese for serving
1/2 cup Light Hellmann’s mayonnaise
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 or 2 garlic cloves (to your taste)
1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 2 anchovy fillets
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
Freshly ground black pepper
Fine sea salt, if needed


1. Trim the root ends from the romaine, separate the leaves, and wash and dry them. Put the lettuce in the fridge to chill while you prepare the dressing.  Also put salad serving bowls/plates in the freezer.

2. Mince the garlic and anchovy, and whisk them together to combine.  Add the other ingredients and whisk again.  Taste and add salt if necessary; the cheese, Hellmann’s, Worcestershire, and anchovies are all salty, so you probably won’t need any additional salt. Loosen the dressing with water as needed starting with the prescribed 1/4 cup.

3. Distribute among the chilled bowls/plates and finish with a generous crowning of the reserved grated cheese, a handful of croutons, and a few turns of black pepper.

Homemade Croutons


Day-old bread, any kind will work

olive oil

salt & pepper

fresh herbs, chopped rosemary or thyme (optional)


Slice bread into 1/2 inch to 1 inch cubes, add to a bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper and fresh herbs.  Toss to coat evenly with your hands.  Place on a baking sheet in a toaster oven and toast until starting to brown.  Mix up and brown on other sides.  Let the croutons cool at room temperature.  Keeps for 2 weeks in an airtight container.

1 Comment

  1. Nick says

    Huge fan of this alternative Caesar dressing….sooooo good and so much better for ya!

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