Caeser Salad Shootout

February 19, 2010

Chris Kimball has two recipes for Caesar salad on his website, plus I have always loved my own recipe. It’s time to figure out which is the best Caesar Salad.

  1. Mark’s Version. Distinctive for it’s use of Balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, a diced shallot. It uses double the amount of olive oil.
  2. Chris Kimball’s Version. Uses Worcester sauce and skips the mustard. Also, uses the entire egg rather than just the egg yolk.
  3. Light Version. Uses “light” mayonnaise instead of eggs, buttermilk, and just 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Uses Worcester sauce and also includes the mustard.

Testing Methodology: Each salad used 1/4 cup of dressing (Except the light version used only 3 tablespoons of dressing; had much stronger flavor) and equal amounts of grated Parmesan and croutons.

Made 3 different versions of Caesar salad for a side-by-side comparison. All were good, but a clear winner did emerge.

AND THE WINNER IS: Chris Kimball’s version had the best overall flavor. I was skeptical that Worcester sauce would work; but, it offered all the boldness, and none of the harshness of the Balsamic.  Including the entire egg, barely cooked for 45 seconds, didn’t make a noticeable difference, since part of the eggs whites hardened and stayed with the shell.

HONORABLE MENTION: Mark’s version had good flavor, but uses too much oil, which muted the bold Caesar flavors. Overall, second place.

BRONZE MEDAL: I was very skeptical of substituting mayonnaise and buttermilk, but the Light Version was surprisingly good. It didn’t have a classic Caesar flavor, but the flavor was strongest of the 3 contenders. Having 330 calories per serving in a good (but not classic Caesar) salad is the main reason to make this recipe.

Matthew and Nico tasting the two classic variations. Nico slightly preferred Mark's version, while Matthew preferred Chris Kimball's version. They both stayed away from the light version.

While actually I made two new recipes, I am only counting it as one because it was part of a single dinner. The recipes are included as a comment.

Rating: 5-star for winner.
Cost: $3. For 3 servings, but plenty of leftover dressing.
How much work? Medium. Because I made 3 versions.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 5:35 PM. Dinner time 7:00 PM.

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