This is a classic in my house, a recipe I found a long time ago on the blog A Cup of Jo, while I was desperately searching for a dupe recipe for the black kale salad they serve up at Spriztenhaus in Williamsburg. Spritzenhaus is known for its pretzels, beer, and wide variety of sausages, but it was the salad that kept me actually coming back. It's made with lacinato kale, sometimes called dinosaur kale, which is darker and leafier variety of kale than the usual sort you find at the store. It was minimally dressed but still packed such a strong lemony, garlicky kick that had me hooked. It seemed deceptively simple, not overloaded with dressing and not heavy the way caesar dressing you might buy at the store would be.
So in my efforts to find a caesar dressing recipe that didn't involve loads of cream, cheese, or oil, I stumbled across this remarkably smart rendition. The base of this dressing is made from roasted garlic, which gives it not only a naturally creamy texture, but an amazing depth of flavor. A little goes a long way, so you won't end up with a goopy overdressed pile of wilted leaves, but instead a surprisingly bright, light, and zippy salad.
I think there's also a lot you can do with the concept of this recipe, and using roasted garlic as the base for other dressings! When I initially roasted mine, I didn't have time to finish the recipe, so I put my foil wrapped cloves into the fridge. It turns out this made it all the easier to extract them, so I suggest this if you'd just like to keep some roast garlic on hand. In terms of this recipe, you could skip the anchovies if you'd like to keep it vegan. You can get fancy with the capers (why does my store only sell this one extremely disappointing variety?). You could add in parmesan for a nuttier kick. You could dial back the lemon and let the garlic shine. You could add whatever fresh herbs you've got on hand and probably wind up with something wonderful.
So play around with this one and get creative, just so long as you promise to give it a try, because it's really that easy and really that good! I serve this on minced kale along with some toasted bread crumbs and find this pairing always hits the spot.
Roasted Garlic Caesar Dressing (makes about 3/4 cup):
1 head garlic
Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1 tbsp. capers
2 anchovy filets
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Remove the outer layers from the head of garlic so the individual cloves are exposed. Chop off the top 1/4 inch of the head so you can see the raw cloves within their skins.
- Place on a 9×13 sheet of foil, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap so the packet is tightly sealed. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until the cloves are soft to the touch. Remove from the foil packet and allow to cool.
- When cool enough to touch, squeeze the cloves out of their skins and add to a food processor. Puree the garlic along with the lemon juice, mustard, salt, and 1/3 cup olive oil. Taste and add more oil as necessary to reach the consistency you like. (This should be a thick dressing, with a punch of acidity.) Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.