Caesarion Salad

On March 15, 2010, in Food and Drink, by peterb

A while ago I was holding forth, as I often do, cursing some local restaurant that made a crappy “caesar salad” that had no anchovies. Caesar salads, I opined, are meant to have anchovies, and any place that didn’t have them in their salad sucked.

A friend of mine politely informed me that I was wrong, and that the traditional Caesar in fact had no anchovies. I laughed in his face, and then snuck away to look it up, and discovered that he was right and I was wrong. Damn it to hell.

This still left me with a problem, which is that I still think that anchovies belong in that salad, and too many places don’t put them in. My solution is to make it at home, myself.

Since I can’t technically call it a Caesar salad, it deserves a new name. Hence, the Caesarion Salad, Caesarion being the bastard child of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra.(footnote 1)


  • Salad greens. The traditional Romaine works, but so does pretty much everything except spinach.
  • The juice of half a lemon, fresh
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • One small tin of anchovies, about 10 total. You want the industrial, packed in oil (ideally olive oil) anchovies, not the fussy salt-packed ones.
  • Black pepper
  • A block of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Grana Padano is a legitimate substitute here. Romano is not. You need a block; grated cheese won’t work for this.
  • “Other stuff to taste” (see below)

You may be noticing the conspicuous absence of vinegar, and of the raw egg. This is because if you want to serve a guest something with a raw egg nowadays, if they’re female, you have to ask if they’re pregnant, which can really be a bit of a buzz-kill on a first date. And, since this is a bastard recipe, the whole point is that you can make it in about 3 minutes. Omitting the egg makes everything easier, and really, isn’t being sloppy and carefree how Caesar ended up with a bastard in the first place?(footnote 2)

Take 5 or 6 anchovies and mash them up with a fork in a small ramekin. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and whisk with your fork until the anchovies have incorporated and the whole thing is a mess of salty, lemony awesome. Add about 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper (you can save that until serving time, but I’m lazy so I incorporate it into the dressing and if my guests don’t like it that means there’s more for me).

In a large bowl, put a ton of salad greens. Dress the salad greens with the concoction you just made and toss. Get out your block of parmigiano and slice off thin but wide slices liberally. You can use more or less depending on how much you like your guests. Add the rest of your anchovies to the salad whole, and be prepared to fight over who gets them.

Lastly, add “other stuff” to taste. This can include croutons, if you like, but I often dispense with those when I don’t have them (which is often) and instead toss in a handful of almonds, pecans, and/or dried cherries. You don’t really want to use too much of these other things – the heavy lifting is already being done by the awesome dressing and those anchovies, so really you’re just introducing a grace note or textural counterpoint.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

Footnote 1: And for you, yes, you, the one about to object that the salad isn’t in fact named after that Caesar? Go away.

Footnote 2: I thought I told you to go away, Picky Guy.(footnote 3)

Footnote 3: The Picky Guy in my head is now observing that, in fact, Caesar probably gave Cleopatra a child intentionally in order to secure access to Egypt’s limitless wealth for his conquests, and so he probably wasn’t being all that sloppy and carefree.(footnote 4)

Footnote 4: Also, Cleopatra wasn’t an exotic Egyptian native like they always portray her, but was redheaded and the result of generations of Macedonian inbreeAAUUUUUUGGHGGH [SMACK].


3 Responses to “Caesarion Salad”

  1. Goob says:

    Something of a local comment, this: (apologies to those readers in Spain!): wonder down the deli case at Penn Mac, to that far end where no one goes, over by the boxes. In amongst the heaps of tortellini and picked octopus and grape leaves and peppers and other things, they have anchovies, loose tubs of them, packed both in oil and in salt. I haven’t tried the ones in salt. The ones in oil are amazing.

    It is, however, nearly impossible not to buy too much of them at once.

  2. psu says:

    The Caesar Salad at Legume is the best I’ve had in town. I think they put in the eggs.

  3. Eeyore says:

    Rather than “Serve immediately”, “Deliver surgically” would be funnier.

    Oh sorry, that would be “Caesarean Salad”.