Friday, September 4, 2009

Cubanelle and Goat Cheese Crostini, Caesar Salad, Meritage

I rue the day I learned to make Caesar dressing.

Caesar salads used to be reserved as a special treat when eating at a place where I knew they made them really, really well. But after an amazing Valentine's Day dinner here (which included a Caesar topped with a fried quail egg as the first course), I decided to try the dressing at home...and now I am a slave to it.

When looking for a recipe, I started out at Smitten Kitchen and looked no further. This recipe is super easy and has a perfect silky texture that coats the lettuce leaves with just enough unctuous, cheesy goodness.

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise - or - 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 oil-packed anchovy fillet, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk all except last together. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. (Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and rewhisk before using.)

I like to mix the salad with grated Grana Padano (I'm addicted, I know) and top it with an egg fried in butter with a sprinkling of sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of cayenne. The salad is especially good made with baby spinach from our CSA instead of the typical romaine.

I usually serve the salad with crostini topped with white truffle oil and a few red pepper flakes (it's sooooo good dipped in the fried egg's yolk!!!), but the other night I decided to try something different. I took two Cubanelle peppers from our garden and sauteed them in a little olive oil. While the peppers were frying up, I sliced a whole grain batard from Wegman's, gave it a spritz of the truffle oil, and popped it under the broiler for about 45 seconds, just until golden brown. I then gave the crostini a light schmear of local goat cheese and topped each slice with the Cubanelle slices.

We finished the whole meal off with a couple of glasses of Atwater Meritage.

I have to be honest (and very humble): IT ROCKED. HARD.

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