In this recipe from the Feathered Pipe’s Kitchen, Heidi Goldman, who was one of the core members of the Feathered Pipe founding group, shares the ever-shifting way she makes a Caesar Salad. Her recipe, like a yoga practice, changes every time. Think of it as Caesar Salad meets Parvritta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose). It’s all about finding your balance. Play with your edge. Whisk in the moment.
I love a classic Caesar Salad just as much as I love a classic yoga pose. I also like to mix things up and add a little twist or a new prop to give a classic a little something extra.
I’ve been making Caesar salad dressing almost as long as I’ve been practicing yoga, which, at this point, is about 45 years ( Wow! Time really does fly). And, just like my yoga practice and my teaching, this salad comes out a little different each time.
While I have my favorite ingredients, I play with their ratios to fit my mood and audience. Sometimes I throw in a few extras as well: red onions, Greek olives, artichoke hearts, shrimp, organic spinach, spring mix, balls and balloons of all sizes (Oops! Those last ones don’t go into the dish, but they have become staple ingredients in my yoga practice).
It’s fun to watch how different people do a Caesar salad. When I managed the kitchen at the Feathered Pipe Ranch, I had the pleasure of working with many master cooks who would follow a recipe to the T, making the perfect dish time after time (…a special shout out to Gail Wilson and Mike Wells on this one). As is true in life and cooking and yoga, I move to my own rhythm. I like to shake things up and adapt.
The recipe below encourages lots of experimentation. I give you my best guesses for the straight up measurements, if that’s more your cooking style. Whichever variation you choose, just remember to have fun, see what speaks to you, and notice where your balance is that day. It’s only yoga—I mean food— well, same difference.
Classic Caesar Salad with a Twist
Makes 2-4 side servings
— 1 – 2 cloves of garlic
— 1 lemon
— 1/3 – 1/2 cup organic, extra virgin olive oil*
— Kosher salt
— Freshly ground black pepper (10 – 16 turns of your pepper grinder)
— 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce
— 3 – 6 anchovy fillets (optional)
— 1 egg (only the yolk will be used)
— 1 head of organic Romaine lettuce (well washed and dried)
— 1/4 – 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
*For this recipe, I like to use a mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil
— A handful of organic baby spinach or spring mix
— Greek olives
— A tomato
— A few slices of thinly cut red onion
— Marinated artichoke hearts
— Grilled and sliced organic chicken, salmon, or shrimp
The key to a good Caesar salad dressing is balancing the flavors. I try not to have the lemon or olive oil stand out by canceling their individual flavors and finding the perfect blend. This is the main reason why my dressing recipe is different each time I make it. The size of the lemon and the kind of olive oil used means that the ratio of ingredients is always shifting.
— Smash one garlic clove with the side of your knife and remove its papery skin. Cut the clove in half and rub it around the inside of a shallow wooden salad bowl.
I love my wooden bowl, but a flat-bottomed serving bowl of any type will do. Rubbing the inside of the salad bowl with a garlic clove is my kitchen ritual.
— Using a garlic press, squeeze the remaining garlic into the bowl and whisk the pressed garlic. This will help break it into even finer bits.
— Squeeze the juice of half of a lemon into the bowl and whisk again. Keep the remaining lemon half close by to see if you need to add more juice later to balance the flavors.
Oh, dear! How much oil did I say? Well, this will all depend on your own taste preference and the perfect blend that you want to create.
— Whisk 1/4 cup of olive oil into the bowl and go from there.
If I add the juice of an entire lemon, I will often use a total of 1/3 of a cup of olive oil to make the dressing. Remember, the citrus and olive oil flavors can cancel each other out; tasting as you go will help you find the right balance for your palate.
— Add a pinch of kosher salt and whisk again.
I am not a big salt user. I find that, even if I use anchovies, adding an additional pinch of salt to the dressing helps brings out more flavors. Try it both ways—with and without salt— and see which version you prefer.
— Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.
There I go again, pepper to taste. Freshly ground black pepper is far superior to the pre-ground powdery stuff.
— Add 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce and whisk it in.
Lea & Perrins’ Worcestershire sauce is my choice— both for its flavor and for its link with the Feathered Pipe’s history. Jermain (Jerry) Duncan, an American heiress whose great-great grandfather was the original American importer of Lea and Perrins’ sauce, bequeathed the ranch and its land to India to create a center for healing. Read the amazing story here.
— Chop 3-6 anchovy fillets into fine bits and whisk them into the dressing.
Don’t let the thought of anchovies put you off. They are light and lovely and add extra savoriness to the dressing. Whisk in one chopped fillet, see what you think. You can always add more.
— Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Gently submerge a fresh egg for 1 1/2 minutes to warm it up a bit. Carefully remove the egg from the water, crack it into a separate cup, and add just the yolk to the salad bowl. Whisk thoroughly. The yolk will thicken the dressing into a creamy sauce.
— Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese to the dressing and mix again.
At times, when I have made my dressing a bit too soupy and am not happy with its consistency, I’ve found that whisking a little extra grated Parmesan cheese will thicken it up nicely.
— Gently toss the lettuce with the dressing, sprinkle on any extra cheese and, voilà, you have a side dish or a full meal. Add shrimp, chicken or any other add-in ingredients and enjoy.
This recipe is like my life, open to the goodness and abundance of the universe and willing to live the mystery. I always start with the same ingredients but make it into something special each time and always with love.