Mexican Caesar Salad

It is not these well-fed long-haired men that I fear, but the pale and the hungry-looking.

― Julius Caesar

Caesar salad is the ultimate. This classic “side” salad is too often underrated and overlooked. The perfect blend of tangy dressing, crunchy lettuce, bright and creamy flavors is simply a perfect combination. Peter taught me to love Caesar salad. I was not always a big fan. Restaurants have over popularized the simple salad as a “side” and it is very rarely treated with the careful preparation it deserves. Now, after falling in love with this delicious dish, I am always on the hunt for the best Caesar salad in town and a great recipe for at home. I can’t pretend to be a homemade Caesar salad queen, but I am working on a stellar dressing recipe. However, I would much rather whip up a homemade take on the classic than settle for anything ordinary (such as bottled dressing).

When Peter decided to make us Halibut Baja Tacos for our first wedding anniversary, I decided to focus all my cooking that night on the “side” salad, with a distinctly Mexican spin on the classic. You may not know this, but Caesar salad is actually Mexican to begin with. Legend has it that Italian-American restaurateur Caesar Cardini invented the salad in 1924 in Tijuana, Mexico. It has since been sensationalized and adopted across the globe to the point where many do not know the origin. Though the classic Caesar salad is Mexican, I pushed this recipe in a less traditional way by using bright local yogurt, lime, and avocado to compliment the Halibut Baja Tacos. Am I messing with history? Maybe / maybe not. But all I know is I got the big stamp of approval from my Caesar salad connoisseur of a husband.

**Tip: Use the absolute best yogurt in the whole of Idaho: Picabo Desert Farm Raw Unpasteurized Goat Yogurt. I am a HUGE fan and always stock up. If you haven’t already discovered Picabo Desert Farm, stop by Atkinsons’ Markets and allow it to change the way you taste yogurt.

Mexican Caesar Salad
4 Servings
25 Minutes

Mexican Yogurt Caesar Dressing

  • 1/2 C plain yogurt, preferably Picabo Desert Farm Raw Unpasteurized Goat Yogurt
  • 1/2 C freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3-4 Tbsp milk
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 whole anchovies OR 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • fresh squeeze juice of 2 limes, about 3-4 Tbsp

Dressing Recipe

  1. Whisk all ingredients except lime juice together until combined and smooth. Be sure to smash and whisk the whole anchovies to dissolve.
  2. Whisk in the lime juice a tablespoon a time at the end until the balance tastes right to you.  Season with additional salt and pepper if needed, and add extra milk if needed to thin out the dressing to your desired consistency.
  3. Serve immediately on a Caesar salad, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Mexican Caesar Salad Fixings

  • 4 C roughly-chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 1 C fried tortilla strips, homemade* OR store-bought
  • 1/2 C chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 1 batch Yogurt Caesar Dressing
  • crumbled cotija cheese

Mexican Caesar Salad Assembly

  1. Combine Romaine, tortilla strips, cilantro and avocado in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Drizzle evenly with the Caesar dressing, and toss to combine.
  3. Serve immediately, sprinkled with crumbled cotija cheese.

*You can either buy crispy tortilla strips at the market.  Or if you’d like to make them homemade, just cut a 3-4 of corn tortillas into small strips.  Fill a small saucepan or sauté pan 1/2-inch full of oil.  Heat over medium-high heat. You know it’s hot enough when you add a drop of water and the oil sizzles. If it sputters and splatters, the oil is too hot — turn it down.  Add in a handful of the tortilla strips and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until they start getting golden and crispy.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tortilla strips to a paper-towel-covered plate, and let cool.  Repeat with remaining tortilla strips until all are fried.

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