Yield: 2-4 servings (depending on size of lettuce heads & appetite of diners)
- 1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and dried (or use hearts of Romaine only)
- for the croutons:
- 1/3 cup small cubes of day-old white bread (sourdough, Italian etc. are best), or chunked-off pieces of dryed out baguette
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or put through a garlic press or grated on microplane
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- for the dressing (makes extra for another salad):
- 1-2 large anchovy fillets
- 1 medium clove garlic
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (preferably Best Foods; not “low fat” mayonnaise)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
- freshly grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese, to taste (at least a few tablespoons)
Lettuce can be left whole-leaf (if using only the paler heart of romaine) or cut or torn to preferred size. Wash, place in a bowl large enough to toss salad easily.
Croutons can be made stovetop or in the oven. For stovetop, heat the one tablespoon olive oil gently in a heavy small frying pan. Add bread cubes, toss to coat. Allow to crisp over very low heat, turning gently every few minutes. When nearly crisp, add garlic and toss well to combine. Continue cooking over low heat for a few more minutes. For oven, preheat to 350°F., toss cubed bread with oil and garlic. Place on baking sheet in a single layer, and bake until crisp and browned, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside until needed. If you're using really dried out bread, shorten the cooking time appropriately!
To make dressing, combine well mashed anchovy fillet (or paste), pureed garlic (use a press or finely chop then mash well with the side of a chef’s knife), lemon juice, vinegar and mayonnaise. Whisk thoroughly to combine, adding a generous amount of pepper. Drizzle in olive oil to taste. Add a few tablespoons Parmesan to dressing if desired, or use only to garnish dressed salad.
Toss dressing with lettuce, garnish with croutons and grated cheese.