BY SHALEEN DESTEFANO
Rumor has it that the Caesar salad was invented in the early 1920s by Caesar Cardini, an Italian chef who owned a restaurant in Mexico. He moved to Tijuana from California to avoid Prohibition. According to his daughter, Rose Cardini, the restaurant was overrun with American tourists and he became short on ingredients in the kitchen. Her father quickly improvised and assembled what was left: lettuce stalks, olive oil, raw egg, croutons, parmesan cheese and Worcestershire sauce. All we know is that it is a family favorite in our house and we’re always trying to think of creative ways to change it up. This recipe comes together nicely with the addition of pesto and pairs perfectly with grilled pita bread, the ideal vehicle for this delicious salad.
2 egg yolks
2 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
½ cup avocado oil or other neutral oil
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for serving
¼ cup pesto, homemade or store bought
8 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 grilled chicken breasts or 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded if you’re looking to cut time
½ cup shaved parmesan cheese
Make the dressing. To a tall mason jar, add the egg yolks, anchovies, garlic, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Use an immersion blender to blend the dressing in the jar, about 30 seconds. Continue blending and gradually pour in the oil, being sure to keep the blender flat on the bottom of the jar. Slowly lift the blender up to incorporate the remaining oil. Add the remaining lemon juice, pepper, and pesto, then blend until combined.
Make the salad. In a large bowl toss the lettuce with the dressing along with the grated Parmesan cheese, and chicken. Top with the shaved Parmesan, and pepper to taste. Serve inside of warmed pita.