Caesar Salad Pasta Salad
For the pasta salad:
1 medium head of radicchio, thinly sliced
1 large fennel bulb (or 2 small ones), thinly sliced
⅓ cup pitted and sliced castelvetrano olives
1 small handful basil, thinly sliced
1 small handful fennel fronds
1 batch caesar dressing, recipe follows
For the caesar dressing:
1 egg yolk, preferably from pasture raised eggs
1 tsp dijon mustard
3 large garlic cloves
2 Fishwife anchovy filets
⅔ cup mild olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
⅔ cup grated parmesan
1 tsp worcestershire
Generous grind of black pepper
Salt to season
Cook half a box of Flour + Water penne according to the package instructions. Drain, and set aside to cool.
There is something particularly satisfying about making a caesar dressing in a mortar and pestle, which is the method I am advocating for in this recipe. It affords you the multifaceted luxury of pounding your garlic and anchovies to a paste, is heavy enough to facilitate an easeful emulsification process, and is ideally big enough to properly fit exactly one batch of dressing. Add the garlic cloves and anchovy filets to the base of your mortar and pestle* and pound them into as smooth of a paste as you can without exhausting your patience. Add the egg yolk, mustard, and a pinch of salt to the mortar, and gently stir to combine. If you are leaning in to the full rustic appeal of this approach, please feel free to use the pestle to emulsify the dressing. If you’d prefer a more foolproof method, now is a good time to whip out a whisk. Drop by drop start adding the olive oil to the mortar, whisking all the while. This part of the process requires the full devotion of your attention and a delicate touch; if you add the oil too quickly too soon you’ll risk breaking the emulsification. Once you see the base of the emulsification start to thicken and come together, you can start adding the oil in a more consistent thin stream - always whisking as you go. Once you’ve added all of the oil the texture should be akin to a loose mayo. Add the lemon juice, worcestershire, parmesan and black pepper. Stir to combine. Taste for seasoning. You want the dressing to be bright, assertive, and well seasoned. If it is lacking depth, add a bit more parmesan. If it is missing brightness, add a bit more lemon. If it is lacking punch, add a bit more black pepper. If the flavors just aren’t popping, add another pinch of salt and/or another dash or worcestershire. Your palate will forever be the best judge of how delicious something can be.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the listed ingredients for the pasta salad and mix to combine. This is best done with your hands to properly coat all of the nooks and crannies in saucy goodness. Enjoy as the star of a summer picnic!
*If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can easily make this dressing in a heavy bottomed bowl. Instead of pounding the garlic and anchovy, you can microplane the garlic and make a paste out of the anchovy by first finely chopping it and then using the flat edge of your knife to smoosh it into a paste on your cutting board. Simply follow the above directions for emulsifying the dressing, and then fold the microplaned garlic and anchovy paste in as you add the lemon juice, parmesan, etc.