Luca's Caesar Salad
To ensure perfectly cold, crisp lettuce leaves, float the lettuce in a bowl of cold water, drain, and repeat. Spin dry and layer the lettuce on a clean towel, topped with paper towel and layered again. Roll up the paper towel and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. From the book "Lucinda's Rustic Italian Kitchen," by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Wiley).
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 cups fresh bread cubes, crusts removed, and cut 3/4-inch square
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 heads romaine lettuce, blemished outer leaves removed and discarded, cleaned as directed above, and cut crosswise into 1-inch strips (about 6 cups)
- 2 large eggs, soft-cooked for 2 1/2 minutes in boiling water
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Anchovies (optional)
At least 15 minutes and up to several hours in advance, in a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the olive oil and the garlic and set aside.
When ready to cook, heat the garlic oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bread cubes and cook, stirring, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towel and toss with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt.
Place the cold lettuce in a salad bowl. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil over the lettuce. Add the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt and toss well. Place the shelled, whole eggs in the center of the lettuce. Add the lemon juice and toss well. The soft-cooked eggs will break apart and combine with the lemon juice to coat the salad with creamy dressing. Add Parmesan cheese and toasted bread cubes, toss again, and top with pepper. Top with anchovies, if desired, and serve immediately.