Fans of the classic Caesar salad will find much to love in this simple but elegant French version from Paris chef Alexia Duchêne. The recipe is adapted from one in her cookbook, La Cuisine D’Alexia: Mes Recettes & Conseils Pour Cuisiner Comme une Cheffe à La Maison. Look for soft and dainty little gem lettuce, or substitute hearts of romaine or butter lettuce.
Featured in “The 26-Year-Old Chef Leading a New Wave of French Cuisine.”
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 heads little gem lettuce (about 1 lb.), halved lengthwise
- Kosher salt
- 1⁄2 cup bread crumbs
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
- 6 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely minced (1 Tbsp.)
- 1⁄4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, divided
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tbsp. fresh chervil, picked and coarsely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- To a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the lettuce in batches, cut side down, and sear until golden brown on one side, 3–4 minutes. Season the cooked lettuce lightly with salt, then transfer to a large plate and set aside.
- To the same skillet, add 1½ teaspoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the bread crumbs, garlic, and thyme, and cook, stirring frequently, until the crumbs are golden, 3–5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and set aside.
- Make the mayonnaise: In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, mustard, and a pinch of salt, then, while continuously whisking, slowly, stream in the vegetable oil, taking care not to add the oil so quickly that the mayonnaise breaks. Whisk in the anchovies and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, season to taste with salt, and set aside.
- In a second medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk with the remaining lemon juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Divide the buttermilk dressing among 4 rimmed plates, then top with the seared lettuce. Top each lettuce half with a dollop of mayonnaise and sprinkle generously with the reserved breadcrumbs. Serve warm or at room temperature.