All hail the old-school way of making Caesar salad

Genevieve Ko
  (Caroline Marks / For The Times )

With so many of you having to stay home and cook for the first time — ever or more than you have in a long time — we get that it can be overwhelming to have to cook all your meals from scratch. So we’re here to get you started. Each day we’re going to post a new skill here and go into detail about how to do it — a resource for cooking basics so you can get food on the table and get through this.

Lesson 34: Caesar salad

I believe a Caesar salad should be made by hand and eaten with hands. Lightly tossing whole romaine heart leaves with the dressing coats them evenly, and eating them like mini tacos filled with croutons and Parmesan shavings is way more fun than stabbing with a fork. Whether you’re making this for yourself or your quarantine crew, you’ll enjoy it more when swiping cold leaves through the dressing.

To infuse the whole dish with garlic’s aroma but without its sharp bite, I rub a smashed clove over the inside of the salad bowl, then sizzle it in the oil I use for crisping croutons and whisking into the dressing.

The garlicky oil gets whisked into a tangy blend of fresh lemon juice, Worcestershire, Parmesan and egg. I stick with the classic trick of coddling the egg — boiling it for a full minute — to give the dressing a creamier texture.

A proper block of Parmigiano-Reggiano is necessary, to my mind, for this salad. You need fine shreds to thicken the dressing and more shaved cheese to finish. I season the salad with salt after the first toss, taste a dressed leaf, then sprinkle on more salt to taste, along with generous grindings of pepper.

And though some maintain anchovies are a latter-day addition, I always add them, mashing and mixing them right into the dressing to make it even more savory. What matters is that it makes this nearly century-old salad the perfect dinner tonight.