Cucina Chiaravalloti

Recipes for Mixed Marriages

Chicken (or not) Caesar

This is a not-quite-classic Caesar salad based on a lemon vinaigrette. A grilled chicken breast on the side is optional for carnivores. Tuna will work also. This departure from the classic preparation contains all the ingredients of the original, but eschews the runny coddled egg that always seemed to end up on the bottom of the salad bowl. The lemon vinaigrette is thickened with an egg yolk and is delicious.

For those of you who wonder why I use anchovies in vegetarian recipes, I point out that they occupy about the same position on the marine food chain as does grass on the prairie. And Pius XIII once classified whale as a fish for purposes of meat-free Fridays. And I love anchovies.

The vinaigrette:

Use a glass or ceramic mixing bowl that will stay put. Combine the egg yolk, lemon juice, a dash of vinegar, a dash of Worcester sauce, the garlic and anchovies, and a tsp. of mustard in the bowl. Whisk in a drizzle of oil (about 2/3 cup) until the vinaigrette begins to thicken like mayonnaise. Stop before it gets too thick. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano and set aside to cool. There will be enough for two or three of these salads so save the extra.

The garnishes:

Optional meat.

Skinless chicken breast marinated in olive oil and lemon juice with oregano and black pepper. Salt before grilling it. When done, allow it to rest while the salad is assembled, then slice and present on a small side plate. Lacto-ovo-tuna vegetarians may substitute a small, drained, can of StarKist Gourmet Choice solid pack tuna in olive oil, or an imported Italian Tonnato.

Croutons:

A piece of day old good Italian or French bread, cubed. About a cup.

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped.

A good pinch of rubbed oregano or other chopped fresh herbs.

2-3 Tbs. olive oil.

Salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a small sauté pan. Add the garlic and herbs and toss until the garlic starts to color. Add the bread cubes and toss until lightly until lightly browned. Season with kosher salt and a grinding of pepper and remove from heat to a bowl.

Hard-boiled eggs.

Hard-boil one or two eggs per person. Bring the eggs and water to a boil and simmer for 12 minutes. Chill, peel, and cut in half. Garnish with black pepper and two crossed anchovy filets.

1/2 cup of grated or shredded pecarino Romano cheese.

The salad:

One head of romaine lettuce, washed, torn into bite sized pieces, dried, and chilled.

Place the lettuce in a large salad bowl. Dress with a generous amount of the Caesar lemon vinaigrette, but don't drench it. Toss until leaves are coated. Add salt, generous grinding of pepper and toss. Sprinkle on the cheese and croutons. Arrange the garnished eggs on top. Do not toss: serve on large plates with an extra grinding of pepper.

Accompaniments:

A bit of  warm, crusty baguette or a serving of garlicky bruschetta go well, although, strictly speaking, the croutons are enough.

This will stand up to a medium bodied red wine, but on a warm evening it is good with a chilled pipi du chat or riesling, or a cool beaujolais.