Topolo Caesar Salad | Print |
(14 votes, average 3.86 out of 5)

Though we’re sure this was invented in Mexico (by Italian immigrant Caesar Cardini), I’d never call it traditionally Mexican.  In Puebla or Oaxaca, its existence is still heresay.  I love the Mexicanized version I came up with for our restaurant, Topolobampo--green chile and lime, not lemon in the dressing, cilantro with the greens and queso añejo or dry Jack cheese over everything.

If using raw eggs bothers you, make a spicy vinaigrette without the egg for a very good, but different, salad. The dressing will keep a couple of days in a closed jar in the refrigerator.




Serves 4 to 6; dressing makes about 1 1/2 cups  

  • 1 cup fruity olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar, preferably sherry vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 fresh serrano chile, stemmed and halved
  • The zest (colored part only) of 1 1/2 limes
  • 1 egg
  • Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cups firm bread (preferably sourdough) crusts removed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes


  • 2 medium-small heads romaine lettuce, tough outer leaves removed, inner leaves rinsed and dried
  • 3/4 cup finely crumbled Mexican queso añejo, dry Jack or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

1. The dressing. Combine 1/2 cup of the olive oil plus all other dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender and process one full minute. Scrape into a small bowl and slowly whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Taste and add more salt if you think necessary.

2. The croutons. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees. In a small (1- to 1 1/2-quart) saucepan, combine the 1/4 cup olive oil and the garlic. Set over the lowest heat and stir every now and again until the garlic is very soft, about 20 minutes. While the garlic is cooking, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until completely crisp and dry, about 20 minutes. Gently mash the garlic in the oil to extract as much flavor as possible, then pour the oil through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl. Toss the oil with the bread cubes to coat evenly, return to the oven and bake until nicely golden, about 5 more minutes.

3. Finishing the salad. In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce, 1/3 cup of the dressing, half of the cheese and all of the cilantro. Toss to coat thoroughly, then divide onto salad plates, top with the remaining cheese and the croutons and serve right away.