This classic Caesar salad recipe and beer pairing may seem a little simple, but oftentimes the simplest things in life are the best things in life, right?
So that bowl of caesar salad in the picture really doesn't look too big but let me assure you that it is. In fact, it may have just been my dinner on a night last weekend when I was feeling particularly lazy. Like, there's-no-food-in-the-house-but-I'm-not-going-grocery-shopping kind of lazy. So I had lettuce, old bread, and a few other staples in the house. Cue: caesar salad for dinner.
Have you ever made caesar salad dressing before?
Why do we even buy dressings in the store anymore??
This salad dressing was impossibly easy to make plus made me feel great that I wasn't downing some store-bought, preservative-packed dressing that I probably would have poured too much onto my salad anyway (aren't we all guilty of that?). It still boggles my mind how we forgot that anything prepackaged in our homes could also be made from scratch.
Anyway, this salad took me a whole 10 minutes to make using ingredients I already had in the kitchen (score!). Do recipes with raw eggs and anchovies scare you? Too bad. Take the risk, its worth it. And no, caesar salad does not taste like anchovies. I promise you its all in your head!
Now onto the important stuff...the beer pairing! Just like this recipe, the beer you pair with it should always be stocked in your fridge: a Munich Helles Lager.
What's that, you ask? I had the same reaction when I first learned about this beer that happens to be the most popular beer style in Bavaria. "Helles" in German means "light", so essentially this is the German equivalent to the light beers we drink here in America...except the Germans actually keep the flavors in their light beers (ooooh...burn).
Helles Lager accounts for about half of Germany's beer consumption because it is light, refreshing, and easy to drink. The style originated in Munich in 1895 by the Spaten Brewery to compete with Pilsner-style beers. Unlike German Pilsner, Helles Lager emphasizes on malt sweetness rather than bittering hops; the beer isn't sweet by any means, but the hops just balance the beer rather than provide a bitter edge. I like to describe these beers as "bready", and the style happens to be one of my go-to's for simple meals like this (and thus why I always have some in the fridge).
And that, my friends, is exactly why we are pairing a Munich Helles Lager with this Caesar Salad instead of a regular ol' Pilsner. Most well-made Pilsners these days contain substantial hop bitterness which might overwhelm this dish. A Munich Helles Lager is light enough to complement the salad while providing carbonation to calm down the bright acidity from the dressing. The lager's "bready" nature also goes great with the croutons. You could almost say the beer acts as an additional crouton to the salad (and there is no such thing as too many croutons). Like I first said, this pairing is a simple one, but oh is it good.
Examples of Munich Helles Lager
- Weihenstephaner Original (used in this post!)
- Spaten Premium Lager
- Paulaner Premium Lager
If you don't have access to any of these beers, go ahead and pop open your favorite Pilsner with this salad and it will still be delicious. If you have any session beers or "light" versions of beers as well, those will work too. I particularly love the entire lineup of Session Ales from Full Sail Brewing.
If you already have some store-bought Caesar salad dressing in your fridge, go ahead and use it for this pairing, I don't mind! But I'm telling you--homemade is sooooo much better and so easy to make. Thanks to my husband's unusual love for anchovies, we have plenty of canned ones in the pantry. I can't go near the stuff, so I keep a handy tube of anchovy paste stocked for any recipes that call for it. Anchovy paste can be found in any grocery store near the canned anchovies.
Classic Caesar Salad
Serves 2 (or 1 very hungry person!) Original recipe adapted from simplyrecipes.com
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 Cup olive oil
- A few thin slices of baguette (3-4 slices per serving)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp anchovy paste (or one anchovy)
- 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- 1 lemon, cut in half for juicing
- 1 head of romaine lettuce
- salt and pepper
- Mince the garlic cloves very fine and add them to a large bowl with the olive oil. Let sit for 30 minutes (and get yourself a beer!)
- Meanwhile, make the croutons: brush the baquette lightly either with butter or a bit of the garlic-oil mixture. Place under a broiler for about 3 minutes, until golden and crispy.
- After the oil has sat for 30 minutes, add the egg, anchovy paste, and parmesan. Squeeze one half of a lemon into the bowl and whisk to combine. Taste, and add more lemon juice as needed. I used about 3/4 of a lemon total. Taste again and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
- Break up the lettuce leaves with your hands and toss in with the dressing, coating all the lettuce leaves well. Place the salad into bowls and break the toasted baquette slices over to create croutons (you can also leave some full slices on the side like I did).
- Shave additional parmesan cheese over the top and serve immediately.