“I don’t wash lettuce that comes in packages and is supposedly pre-washed.” Plus I HATE washing and spinning lettuce, which is why I’ve resorted to buying romaine hearts in plastic packages. Although the package says to wash the lettuce, I usually just inspect it for dirt and wipe off any bits I see.
Why am I using baseball terms when the Bruins just won the Stanley Cup? Because I know nothing about hockey and can’t think of any comparable hockey terms.
So here’s the story:
Over the weekend, we did Phase 2 of family rehab (something I’ll blog about soon), and one of the commitments we made was that each kid should cook dinner once a week. Which means I have to teach two of them how to cook.
Tonight it was Ren’s turn because the 2 girls were at a meeting and he was the only available kid. I decided that we’d make grilled chicken Caesar salad. Caesar salad is one of his favorite dishes, it isn’t very hard to make—surely a great start to our new family commitment. I had grilled chicken tenders over the weekend so he didn’t even have to cook anything.
After last week’s debacle with dead ants in Caesar salad, Ren was understandably jittery about our menu choice. But he grated Parmesan, he squeezed out anchovy paste, he reamed the lemon for juice, broke the coddled egg and whisked it all together.
Then he noticed that I just cut the lettuce into the salad bowl. “Why aren’t you washing the lettuce?”
He didn’t look convinced.
This time I knew there would be no ants in the salad because the crouton package was brand new. Nevertheless, Ren, the crouton monster of the family, refused croutons on his salad for fear of more ants.
All was going well with our meal. Both parents were happily focusing on just one kid when Ren said, “I think I have an inchworm on my lettuce. . .I HAVE AN INCHWORM ON MY LETTUCE!”
I looked at his plate. Sure enough, a little green inchworm was inching its way across Ren’s lettuce leaf. I plucked it off.
I said, “It’s gone, now eat your salad.”
But it was too late.
“AARGH! Why didn’t you wash the lettuce?”
Scott defended me, “Even if she did, I don’t think the inchworm would have fallen off.”
From then on, there was continual commentary from Ren:
“I think this brown thing is an inch worm egg.”
“What’s this speck? I think it’s a bug.”
“How do I know there aren’t more inch worms in my salad?”
“This is going to be BAD if there are worms in the salad at my birthday party on Friday.”
I had to leave before he finished his meal so I don’t know how much lettuce got consumed. But I’m not sure Caesar salad’s ever going to be Ren’s favorite again.
I got this recipe from a friend 16 years ago and it’s really great—the kids didn’t prefer it for years because they like that mayonnaisy gloppy Caesar salad dressing in restaurants. But in this past year, they’ve come around so they actually like it better because it’s lighter and more flavorful—that is, until the advent of ants and worms
1 large head romaine, or several smaller romaine hearts that come in the plastic package, washed and spun very dry
½ cup grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Regianno is worth the exorbitant price)
2 tsp anchovy paste
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press
3 Tbs. lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
1 coddled egg (boiled for 1 minute—hopefully this kills all salmonella germs on the outside—to be even safer, use free-range organic chicken eggs)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Whisk anchovy paste, garlic and lemon juice together until well mixed
2. Add coddled egg, whisk together
3. Add olive oil, whisk until dressing is emulsified
4. Break Romaine into edible pieces
5. Toss with dressing, add parmesan, toss again
6. Garnish with croutons and freshly grated black pepper
Note: I usually use only half the dressing with a large head of Romaine or 2-3 hearts of Romaine. One recipe of dressing makes ample Caesar salad for 10.