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Nancy Silverton - Spacca Caesar With Fried Parsley, Anchovies, Orange Zest, and Bagna Cauda Croutons

Home and Family 9032 Final Photo Assets
An enhanced Caesar salad.
Spacca Caesar
Course:
Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine:
Italian
INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE BAGNA CAUDA CROUTONS:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 Cetara anchovy fillets in oil (or another quality, oil-packed variety; or 5 whole salt-packed anchovies, rinsed and backbones removed)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • Half of a 1-pound loaf of rustic bread

FOR THE PARSLEY:

  • Canola oil (or olive oil) for deep-frying
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or another neutral-flavored oil)
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 10 anchovy fillets (preferably salt-packed; rinsed and backbones removed if salt-packed)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon fresh coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated parmesan

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 1 head escarole (preferably “blanched” escarole)
  • 1/4 large head cauliflower (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 Cetara anchovy fillets in oil (or another quality oil-packed variety; or 3 whole salt-packed anchovies; rinsed and backbones removed)
  • 1 orange
  • A chunk of parmesan for grating
  • Fresh coarsely ground black pepper

BAGNA CAUDA CROUTONS DIRECTIONS:

Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 325°F.

Combine the butter and extra-virgin olive oil in a small saucepan. Finely chop the anchovies with a large knife and use the flat side of the knife to smash them into a paste; add the paste to the saucepan. Using a fine microplane, grate the garlic into the saucepan. Heat over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to meld the flavors. Turn off the heat.

Pull the inside of the bread out of the crust into 1- to 11/2-inch chunks and put the chunks on a large baking sheet. (snack on the crusts or discard them.) Drizzle the bagna cauda over the bread and toss to coat. Spread the bread chunks out on the baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown and crispy, stirring them and rotating the baking sheet from front to back halfway through that time for even browning. Remove the croutons from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature.

TO FRY THE PARSLEY:

Pour enough canola oil into a small saucepan to fill it 11/2 to 2 inches deep. Fasten a deep-fry thermometer, if you have one, to the side of the pan. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until the thermometer reads 350°f or a pinch of salt sizzles when dropped into it. While the oil is heating, create a bed of paper towels. Turn off the heat and carefully add half of the parsley leaves to the pot, stepping back when you add them because the moisture in the parsley will cause the oil to splatter. Cook the parsley leaves for 5 seconds. Use a mesh strainer or slotted spoon to lift the leaves out of the oil and spread them out on the paper towels to drain. Season the fried parsley leaves with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add the remaining parsley leaves to the oil and fry, drain, and salt them in the same way. Let the oil cool and strain it into a container; cover and reserve the oil to cook with another time.

TO MAKE THE DRESSING:

Combine the lime juice, vinegar, tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce in a small measuring cup or bowl. Combine the extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil in a measuring cup with a spout.

Combine the egg yolk and salt in the bowl of a mini food processor fitted with a metal blade. Finely chop the anchovies with a large knife and use the flat side of the knife to smash them into a paste. Put the paste in the bowl of the mini food processor. Using a fine microplane, grate the garlic into the food processor bowl and pulse to combine the ingredients. With the machine running, begin adding the oil through the lid of the food processor, blending continuously, until the oil and egg are emulsified and creamy looking; you will have added about 1/4 cup of the oil. Turn off the machine, take off the lid, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and add one-third of the lime juice–vinegar mixture. Return the lid and pulse to combine. Add the remaining oil in a slow, steady drizzle, adding the remaining lime juice–vinegar mixture when the dressing gets very thick. Turn off the machine and transfer the dressing to a medium bowl, scraping down the sides of the food processor bowl. Add the pepper and parmesan and stir to combine. Add more lime juice or salt to taste.

TO PREPARE THE SALAD:

Cut off and discard the root end of the escarole. Remove the dark green outer leaves until only the tender, light yellow leaves remain. (reserve the outer leaves to make braised greens, page 297.) Tear the remaining leaves from the core and put them in a large wide-mouth bowl.

Trim the cauliflower and cut it into quarters, keeping the core intact. Adjust the blade of a mandoline to slice 1⁄8 inch thick. Slice 2 slices of cauliflower and check that the slices are just thick enough that they don’t fall apart. If they are thick, like slabs, adjust the mandoline to slice thinner. If they are so thin that they crumble into pieces, adjust the blade to slice thicker. Continue slicing the cauliflower, stopping just before your fingers get dangerously close to the blade; snack on the end piece.

Squeeze the juice of the lemon half and sprinkle the salt over the escarole, and toss to coat the escarole with the lemon juice and salt. Drizzle 1 cup of the dressing over the escarole and massage with your hands to coat the escarole with the dressing. Add the cauliflower and the residual cauliflower crumbles and toss again, gently tossing to coat the vegetables and adding more dressing if needed to coat them thoroughly; take care not to break up the cauliflower.

TO SERVE:

Building the salad in two layers and choosing the largest leaves of escarole first, arrange half of the escarole leaves and cauliflower slices to cover the surface of a large platter or wide-mouth bowl. Scatter half of the croutons over the lettuce and drape half of the anchovies in the nooks and crannies of the salad. Build a second layer using the remaining escarole, cauliflower, croutons, and anchovies. Use a fine microplane to zest the bright orange outer layer of the orange and grate a thin blanket of parmesan over the salad. Scatter the fried parsley and grind a generous amount of pepper over the top.

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