A true Caesar salad dressing gets its rich, salty funk from anchovies, but not everyone eats fish. Shouty purists may insist that those people simply don’t deserve a Caesar salad, but I think that’s a little harsh, especially when you can make a very good vegetarian approximation with blue cheese.
Photo: Claire Lower
Does a Caesar dressing made with blue cheese taste exactly like one made with anchovies? Of course not—cheese is not a fish. Does a Caesar dressing made with blue get surprisingly close, scratching that salty, funky, garlicky itch into oblivion? Yes. For best results you want to use the most offensively ripe blue cheese you can find, and you want to use about three tablespoons of crumbles for every 1/2 cup of oil. It works with pretty much any Caesar dressing recipe; just omit the anchovies and add the blue cheese along with the Parmesan. I like this recipe from Bon Appetit, and make my vegetarian version based on it. To make your own fish-free dressing, you will need:
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 tablespoons olive oil (You could also use all olive oil, but it ends up competing with a lot of other powerful flavors, and ultimately gets muddied.)
- 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons blue cheese
- Lots of fresh pepper
Mince your garlic, sprinkle liberally with salt, then make a paste by smushing it with the flat blade of your knife, dragging it through the pile to express as much garlic juice as possible. Place that in a cup wide enough to fit the head of an immersion blender, along with the egg yolks, mustard and lemon juice. Stick your immersion blender down in there and pulse to combine, then slowly pour your oil on top of the other ingredients. Push the head of the immersion blender straight in to the bottom of the cup, then blend on high, slowly moving it up and down until everything is nice and emulsified. Add the cheeses, process until smooth, then season liberally with fresh pepper and pulse once more.
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