I Tried This Restaurant-Style Caesar Salad — Here’s My Honest Review.

published Mar 14, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Headshot: Getty Images/ Nicholas Hunt / Staff

Lidia Bastianich is an award-winning Italian-American cookbook author, television host, and longtime restaurateur behind some of New York City’s most acclaimed restaurants, such as the now-closed Del Posto. She is also part owner of the Italian grocery giant Eataly. With a resume like that, how could I not include her in this Caesar salad showdown?

Being that her background is in restaurants, for food safety purposes her recipe uses a hard-boiled egg yolk rather than a raw one to emulsify her Caesar dressing. She stays true to the original with the use of lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, but makes it her own with the addition of red wine vinegar and mustard. Instead of adding garlic to her croutons, Bastianich adds the garlic to the dressing, and bakes the cubed bread plain. She also omits Parmesan cheese and opts for Grana Padano instead.

Would this twist on Caesar become my favorite? I tried it to find out.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Headshot: Getty Images/ Nicholas Hunt / Staff

How to Make Lidia Bastiniach’s Caesar Salad

You’ll begin by hard-boiling the egg. Lidia’s recipe has you start the egg off in cold water, then bring it to a boil over high heat. Immediately shut off the heat, then allow the egg to sit in the warm bath until it cools to room temperature. Crack the egg and return it to the water for a couple of minutes, then peel.

Meanwhile, bake the breadcrumbs until golden-brown. Peel the outer green leaves from the romaine heads to reveal the hearts. Remove the individual leaves, then wash and dry in a salad spinner. Place them in a bowl and cover with a damp towel. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the salad.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic cloves, and anchovies, and blend until smooth. Add mustard, the hard-boiled egg yolk, salt, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and olive oil. Blend until the mixture is creamy, adjusting the seasoning as needed.

Lidia’s recipe says you can chop the leaves in the bowl with a salad fork and spoon, or you can pre-cut the lettuce into 1-inch pieces and place them in a salad bowl. Top with the dressing, a splash of vinegar, and a splash of olive oil, then toss the salad until well coated in the dressing. Toss in the croutons and season with fresh ground black pepper.

Sprinkle 1 cup of grated Grana Padano cheese over the top, then shave some larger pieces off the block, then serve.

Credit: Amelia Rampe

My Honest Review of Lidia Bastianich’s Caesar Salad Recipe

This salad was very good, but it didn’t quite have the flavor the rest of them did. The addition of Grana Padano cheese lent a gentler, creamier cheese flavor instead of the more intense flavor that the Parmesan provides. I found that the plain croutons were also less flavorful than the Serious Eats and the Julia Child garlic-infused versions. 

Overall, I felt this was a standard run-of-the-mill Caesar salad recipe that you could get at most restaurants. While I’m sure there are folks who would prefer a gentler flavor profile, this salad just was not my favorite. I would still happily eat it, though, if someone made it for me! But if you’re going to go to all the effort of making a Caesar from scratch, try the Julia Child or Serious Eats versions first.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Making Lidia Bastianich’s Caesar Salad, a Tip

  1. Bump up the flavor. Try baking the bread cubes with garlic-infused garlic oil, or swapping in Parmesan for the Grana Padano.

Overall rating: 7/10