Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Caesar Salad with Pancetta

Over the past several days, I've been busy making all the August recipes for the Barefoot Bloggers. I will give you a spoiler and warn that all the recipes coming up were delicious. We have some new favorites to add to our collection! However, you will have to wait until August 14, 21, and 28 to see the yummy results! I can however post about some of the great accompaniments I made. Last night we had Ina's Grilled Pizzas which were fabulous. The grilled pizza update will post on August 21st. To go with these delicious pizzas, I served Ina's Caesar Salad with Pancetta as recommended in the Barefoot Contessa Parties. Both my husband and I and are guests (my in-laws) really enjoyed this salad. Definitely take the time to roast the tomatoes. My only complaint was the dressing was a bit too salty for me. I didn't read the reviews on the food network site warning of the saltiness until after I had already made the dressing. Next time, I would cut out the 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and try 4-6 anchovies. I would recommend starting with a small amount of the anchovies and tasting and adding both anchovies and/or salt until you achieve a balance that you like. As recommended by Ina, I substituted mayonnaise for the raw egg. Overall a great recipe to have in your repertoire!

Caesar Salad with Pancetta
Source: Barefoot Contessa Parties

3/4 pound pancetta, sliced 1/2-inch thick
2 pints cherry tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes)
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large heads romaine lettuce
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

For the dressing:
1 extra-large egg yolk at room temperature* (I substituted 2 Tbsp of Mayonnaise as recommended by Ina)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
8 to 10 anchovy fillets (optional)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good mild olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the pancetta into 1/2-inch cubes and cook it in a skillet over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned and crisp. Remove to paper towels and drain.

Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft.

Wash the lettuce leaves carefully and spin-dry in a salad spinner. Stack the leaves on a cutting board and cut them crosswise into 1 1/2-inch slices. Place them in a large mixing bowl.

For the dressing, place the egg yolks, mustard, garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until smooth. With the food processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube (as though you were making mayonnaise), until thick. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and pulse 3 times.

Toss the lettuce with enough dressing to moisten well. Add 1 cup grated Parmesan and toss. Divide the lettuce among 6 or 8 plates and sprinkle with the pancetta roasted tomatoes. Serve at room temperature.

All these ingredients can be made in advance. Be sure they're room temperature when you assemble the salad.


KMAYS said...

What a good recipe to have up your sleeve! Somehow a Caesar salad can kind of take a meal to the next level. It just feels fancier to me. Looks delicious!

Stefanilw said...

Have you ever tried sun-dried tomatoes in a ceasar salad? It adds a nice chewy sweetness.

Joelen said...

Yum! Then again, add pancetta to anything and the whole dish is taken to a new level! :)

Anonymous said...

Looks delicious! I usually use anchovie paste for salad dressing. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think it is as fishy/salty as straight anchovies, plus you don't have to touch the anchovies!