Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Caesar Salad with Slow-Cooked Tomatoes, Pancetta & Parmesan

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties! by Ina Garten
Serves  6-8
 Caesar Salad with Pancetta, Slow-Roasted Tomatoes & Shaved Parmesan
For the slow-roasted tomatoes:
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
1 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
4 sprigs thyme
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 300ᵒF.  Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven.
Slice the tomatoes in half, from top to bottom.  Toss with olive oil, thyme sprigs and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Spread over a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, arranging the tomatoes so the cut sides all face up, in a single layer.  Roast until wrinkly and soft, about 2 hours, rotating the pan about half-way through the baking time.  Cool on the pan to room temperature, then store at room temperature in an air-tight container until needed.  If keeping overnight, store in the refrigerator.
Sliced Cherry Tomatoes with Thyme & Olive Oil   
For the Caesar Dressing:
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
8 anchovy fillets
1/2 c cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Combine the egg yolk, mustard, garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, salt and pepper into the bowl of an electric food processor.  Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  With the food processor running, very slowly pour the olive oil, and then the vegetable oil through the feed tube, adding only a few drops at a time and allowing the oil to incorporate fully and thicken the sauce.  Add the grated Parmesan and pulse a few times to combine.  This can be kept refrigerated in an air-tight container for about 2-3 days. 

For the rest of the salad:
3/4 pound pancetta, sliced 1/2 inch thick
3 large heads romaine lettuce, outer leaves and any blemished leaves discarded
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 oz chunk Parmesan, sliced into ribbons with
     a vegetable peeler
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cook the sliced pancetta in a sauté pan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until browned and crispy, about 15 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked pancetta to a bed of paper towels to drain.   Cooking the pancetta should be done at more or less the last minute.  It hardens as it sits, and is best eaten within an hour of cooking. 
Slice the romaine cross-wise into roughly 1 1/2-inch slices. 
In a large mixing bowl, toss the sliced romaine with enough dressing to coat it well.  (You won’t need to use it all, by a long shot.)  Add the grated Parmesan, most of the sliced Parmesan ribbons, most of the pancetta and most of the tomatoes.  (I say ‘most’ because you’ll want to leave a bit of these things left for topping the salad.  It’s prettier that way.)  Season with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, then toss well to combine.  Transfer to a serving bowl or platter, then garnish with the remaining Parmesan ribbons, pancetta and roast tomatoes.  Serve immediately.