Zina Lapi of Casa Azul grabs her apron to show us how to make a Mexican-inspired Caesar. This dish is intense with flavor, from dressing to veggies, and ready for your table in minutes.
There are more than a few things that make this recipe so delicious. First, charred garlic makes the base for a smooth and creamy dressing. Second, Zina infuses Mexican flavors by swapping traditional parmesan with Mexican cotija and the crunch of croutons with candied pumpkin seeds.
“Pepitas are in a ton of Mexican recipes and dishes,” says Zina.
Before you go and grab your own apron, here are a few more tips to keep in mind.
One and done. You’ll start by charring your garlic on the stove. But don’t throw that pan in the sink just yet. Zina uses the same one to cook her veggies. “It’s already nice and seasoned with that garlic flavor,” she says.
The char is important. Don’t pull your veggies off the heat too soon. The color you’ll get amps up the flavor. “Just like the garlic, you want to uncomfortably char the vegetables.”
Charred Caesar veggies
Dressing | Makes 1½ quarts
- 12 cloves garlic
- 24 anchovies
- 7 tbsp. lime juice
- 7 tbsp. Worcestershire
- 4 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup cauliflower florets
- 1 cup Brussels sprouts, halved
- 4 tbsp. charred Caesar dressing
- 1 tbsp. cotija cheese
- 2 oz. candied pumpkin seed
Preparation | Dressing | Char peeled garlic cloves in a large cast-iron skillet in light oil until burnt on all surfaces. Remove from skillet.
Combine all ingredients, except the oil, in Vitamix or blender on low-to-medium speed until smooth. Feed in olive oil slowly to emulsify. If needed, add small amount of ice water so dressing doesn’t get hot and break.
“The salad dressing pretty much tells you when it's done," says Zina. "It will stop spinning in the blender but it will be well emulsified and a nice, well-incorporated dressing.”
Preparation | Veggies | Heat the same cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Once very hot, add cauliflower and sprouts. Cook in dry pan for 2 minutes, then add 2 tbsp. of the dressing and stir until vegetables are all evenly coated.
Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables have developed a nice, even char and are cooked all the way through.
Plate on top of dressing, and garnish with cotija and pumpkin seed.
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