How do you define a Caesar salad?

By Justine Sterling
January 06, 2016

In the new issue of the New York Times Magazine, the esteemed Judge John Hodgman (who is not actually a judge, but a well-respected comedian, podcaster and author) weighed in on the Caesar salad. Asked whether or not a Caesar could contain cauliflower, he answered with a definitive no, and then went on to define what exactly goes into the classic salad: romaine, garlic, egg yolk, Worcestershire, Parmesan and croutons. Add anything else, he wrote, and the salad would cease to be Caesar. While we respect the honorable judge’s ruling, we have to disagree. First, he's forgetting a defining Ceasar dressing ingredient, anchovies. And then there's the pragmatic truth that if you have some form of greenery, some form of crunch and that distinctly pungent dressing, most salad fans will agree that you've got a Caesar. Here are five of our favorite Caesar salad variations. We think Mr. Hodgman would agree that they're delicious, even if their existence leaves him red-faced with anger.

1. Caesar Salad with Shiitake Mushrooms

Meaty shiitake mushrooms are a healthy way to beef up a Caesar.

2. Kale Caesar with Rye Croutons and Farro

Hearty kale is a great substitute for crunchy romaine.

3. Kale Caesar with Fried Chickpeas

Sometimes a perfect salad is exactly what you want. This tangy Caesar salad from F&W’s Justin Chapple is topped with light, airy, crunchy pan-fried chickpeas. It doesn't take a lot to make kale taste delicious.

Eva Kolenko

This salad should be doubly offensive for Hodgman. Not only is it made with kale instead of romaine, but it's also topped with pan-fried chickpeas instead of croutons.

4. Caesar Salad with Crispy Tofu Croutons

Pan-fried tofu cubes are an unexpectedly good replacement for traditional croutons.

5. Caesar Salad with Meatballs

This one might be stretching it, but there's no doubt that it's tasty to swap croutons for juicy meatballs.