I guess you have to start somewhere with cookbooks. This was one of the first we've ever received -- from R's mom. It came in handy as we were both trying to figure out how to make meals for ourselves.
To this day, we use the caesar salad dressing recipe from this book. Once you try homemade dressing, there's no going back to the store bought stuff. Actually, this reminds me of a slightly embarrassing potluck story. We were attending a friend of a friend's potluck and were asked to bring salad. So, we brought caesar with our homemade dressing. We assembled the dish there and it got rave reviews from everyone who ate it. After getting a plateful of food, R went back for seconds. He came back with more caesar salad on his plate and start eating it without a second thought. Next thing you know, he's making faces about the salad and says to me (relatively loudly) "Something is wrong with our salad. It doesn't taste right at all". I tried some, squished my face and said -- maybe we should take it away from the table. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), we were corrected that this wasn't our salad and that someone else had also brought caesar salad, which was prepared when our salad ran out. Oops...the person who brought the second salad was in the room. OOPS!
I don't mean to sound like a salad dressing snob...but...there is a difference.
Without further ado, here's the recipe. I'll give the full recipe, which serves six. We usually half the recipe for the two of us. More specifically, R usually halves the recipe (I rarely do the prep on caesar salad).
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp water
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 cloved garlic, finely chopped
3 anchovy fillets, chopped (we usually use 1 or 2 -- 3 was too salty)
1/4 tsp pepper
1 large head Romaine lettuce
1. In a food processor, combine oil, majonnaise, lemon juice, water, mustard, garlic, anchovy fillets and pepper until smooth and creamy.
2. Arrange lettuce in salad bowl; pour dressing over and toss lightly. Add croutons, bacon bits, parmesan cheese. Toss again.
I also just heard a tip on Barefoot Contessa that you should use your salad spinner as a crisper by just washing your lettuce and leaving it in the spinner in the fridge over night. I've never tried it, but it sounds like a good tip. I also noticed that I have the same Oxo salad spinner as Ina (a used, but perfectly good donation from my uncle). After going through (read: breaking) a couple of spinners, I am devoted to this one.