frankies spuntino caesar salad with salmon

frankies spuntino caesar with salmon | two red bowls

A few months ago, a super exciting thing happened and I leveled up into my own office at work (we share for the first few years). OK, so it’s true, it has no windows. That comes after three years. But for the first time I have a little cave all to myself!  I went a tad crazy decorating my haven with gratuitously shiny file racks and cups shaped like fishes and a couple of the dreamy cookbooks I’ve been coveting, like Karen Mordechai’s Sunday Suppers and Kristen Miglore’s Food52 Genius Recipes.  It’s pretty much all the things I do not need to practice law.  But it makes my new nook so homey!  (And it gives me a neat little escape from work whenever I feel like daydreaming about food.)

It was on one of those cookbook work breaks when I flipped to a Frankies Spuntino recipe in Genius Recipes and almost ran home at that exact moment to make it.  Frankies has a special place in my heart, both for really good food and a really great date night B2 and I had a few summers back — one of those evenings where the late golden light stays suspended in the sky way longer than seems reasonable, and you think there’s going to be a wait but there magically is none, and you stuff yourself full of crostini, fat rigatoni, and chewy gnocchi, and totter home feeling like this is what New York summers are made of.   So there was no doubt in my mind that this recipe would be a great one, just waiting to be made in commemoration of that happy buzz from a good dinner under twinkling lights on an outdoor patio.

frankies spuntino caesar with salmon | two red bowls

The recipe is a quick and almost impossibly easy one for Caesar dressing, aptly described as “heretical,” yet “fiercely convenient.” It cuts out whisking and emulsifying and raw egg and anxiety and sweat in favor of a blender and everything you probably already have in your fridge, but without sacrificing an ounce of flavor. Between this and Molly’s dill hollandaise, I’m so very sold on blender dressings — it’s none of the hassle for all of the same (if not better) results. Though all this dressing really needs is a heart or two of romaine, I sliced up a few day-old kaiser rolls to make crunchy croutons to throw on top, and pan-seared a little salmon with some salt, pepper, and lemon to add heft. Everything about this is simple, with no unnecessary frills.  And the result is everything I’d ever want from a Caesar salad — the dressing is gently briny, just the right amount of salty and pungent, but with a comforting creaminess underlying it all. Buttery salmon gives the sardines a little company, and garlicky, faintly cheesy croutons pair up neatly with the Pecorino Romano. All in all, it fits right into the quick and refreshing, but still delightful, series of summer lunches we’ve been having lately.

Hope you’re staying cool and having wonderful Wednesdays!

frankies spuntino caesar with salmon | two red bowls

frankies spuntino caesar with salmon | two red bowls

frankies spuntino caesar with salmon | two red bowls

frankies spuntino caesar with salmon | two red bowls

frankies spuntino caesar with salmon | two red bowls

Frankies Spuntino Caesar salad with salmon

This paragon of blender-dressing genius is scaled down from Food52 Genius Recipes and Frankies Spuntino. If you can bear fifteen minutes with the oven, the homemade croutons are a breeze, and a quick sear of some salmon adds staying power. If you're icked out by too much fish-on-fish, I think some grilled shrimp would be amazing here too, or a good old BSCB.


  • for the croutons:
  • 1 cup diced day-old bread
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil (or as needed to coat)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp grated Parmesan (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • for the dressing:
  • 2 tbsp (12g) grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup (55g) mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) water, plus more as needed
  • 3/4 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • for the salmon:
  • two 4-oz salmon fillets
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • to serve:
  • 1 romaine heart with outer leaves removed


  1. To make the croutons: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss diced bread in olive oil until evenly coated, then spread on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet. Season generously with salt, pepper, Parmesan, and garlic powder, then bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring once, until sides are golden. Set aside and let cool.
  2. To make the salmon: Pat fillets dry on both sides, paying special attention to the skin-side if you're leaving it on. (I do because I love me some crispy salmon skin.) Season generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and salmon, skin-side down (if applicable). Cook about 4-5 minutes, until skin is crispy, then flip and cook the other side for another 4-5 minutes, until fish flakes easily. Try not to flip more than once. Sprinkle with lemon juice and set aside to let cool briefly.
  3. Next, trim the root ends from the romaine, separate the leaves, and wash and dry them. Put the lettuce in the fridge to chill while you prepare the dressing.
  4. To make the dressing: In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients for the dressing except the salt and black pepper, and puree until smooth. If you don’t have a blender or food processor, simply mince the garlic and anchovy as finely as you can, then whisk them with the remaining ingredients.
  5. Taste and adjust with salt to taste -- the ingredients have a fair amount of salt, so you likely will not need any. Loosen the dressing with more water if needed. Set aside.
  6. Toss the chilled lettuce with the dressing in a large bowl. Serve immediately with croutons, salmon, more grated cheese, and a turn of black pepper.


  1. says:

    August 19, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Congrats on your new office! That’s exciting. I remember my first job I had a little cubicle out on the floor but I was still SO excited to personalize it. I was only there for a year so I knew I couldn’t go crazy, but I still ended up with a ledge full of various teas, including a matcha whisk (which prompted many conversations, hehe), and definitely cookbooks. They are indeed a great little escape from office life :). I’m loving this summer lunch series – great inspiration for these hot and humid days!

  2. says:

    August 19, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Delish!! I am always looking for a new salmon recipe. Perfect for the end of summer! That dressing sounds soooo good, too. Do you think it would work with a bit of anchovy paste? I’ll have to give it a try =)

    • tworedbowls says:

      August 19, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      I bet it would totally work with anchovy paste! If you try it, I would looove to hear how you like it. Hope you and babyboyhuff (so precious!!!) are doing amazing πŸ˜€

  3. says:

    August 19, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Cynthia. I could live off of recipes from your blog. B2 is quite possibly the luckiest man in the world, for so so many reasons. Also, those file racks are seriously swoon worthy (if file racks can be swoon worthy…). Congrats on the new cave!! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  4. says:

    August 19, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Congratulations on your promotion! I understand the excitement of having your own space. I finally moved into my own office 2 years ago and it’s nice to finally get the acknowledgement of your efforts at work. Congrats again! πŸ˜€
    I also love salmon – it’s my favourite fish! This salmon Caesar salad looks really good – I’ll make it at home! Unfortunately I couldn’t bring it to work, because the smell heated fish is not well-liked in the office :/

  5. says:

    August 19, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Between this and Orangette’s Caesar dressing I am craving Caesar salad something fierce right now. Yum. Congratulations, by the way, on your own office! I do not have an office job, but if I did (and if I felt bold enough to) I would stash cookbooks there as well.

  6. says:

    August 19, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Woohoo on the new office! I think it’s always nice to make an office space homier, although I would probably be very distracted if I had cookbooks that close to me at work! That salmon looks perfectly cooked and yes, all hail blender dressing. Now I’m craving crunchy romaine lettuce!

  7. says:

    August 19, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    You’re so cute, decorating your office with your cookbooks! I don’t think I could get away with that here β€” my company, like every friggin tech company ever, has an open floor plan (which I have mixed feelings about but whatever) and everybody can just see the clutter on my desk all the time. Sigh.


  8. says:

    August 19, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    This is gorgeous and perfect for summer. I love salmon any and every way, so this is massively attractive to me. Throw in a a fancy salad dressing, and I’m yours. I can’t wait to give this beauty a try!
    And congrats on the new office! That’s so awesome!
    xxx Sydney

  9. says:

    August 19, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    This sounds so salty and tangy in the best possible way ever! I love how beautiful it is too! And those croutons, gahhh love ALL of it.

  10. says:

    August 19, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    yay! congrats on your nook, that must be so exciting to have a little area to yourself adorned with the things that make you happy πŸ™‚ this caesar looks awesome! i have fond memories of the dressing that came with a caesar pasta salad i grew up eating. the dressing can be a total game changer, and i’m sure your take on frankie’s dressing is totally perfect! big hugs, friend! xo

  11. says:

    August 19, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    Egg free caesar dressing, THANK YOU! I know I should probably get over my raw egg phobia, but I don’t see that happening as quickly as I want to eat caesar salad. I have my own version of an egg free caesar dressing but I really like your addition of red wine vinegar. I think that will be really nice. Thanks for sharing and as always, stunning photos.
    P.S. congrats on your office upgrade. Your decorations sound charming.

  12. thebrickkitchen says:

    August 19, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Love how easy this dressing it – but it still looks totally packed with flavour! And salmon is amazing – so much better than chicken in caesar salad in my opinion. Gorgeous food styling too, always.
    Congrats on getting your own space – I love that your decorations include cookbooks that you can spontaneously flip through – sounds like my kind of work break πŸ™‚ Xx

  13. says:

    August 19, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    yay for a new office!!! how exciting!! now you can be that person who is cool and says ‘step into my office let’s chat’ !!!. and blender dressings for the win. because those who have the time to make non-blender dressing should be making roast chickens instead πŸ˜‰

  14. says:

    August 20, 2015 at 2:32 am

    Awesome! Congratulations on your new space, woohoo! I bet it’s as cute as can be since you’re so creative and artistic.

    And this looks simply amazing, and vice versa. I was never much of a Caesar person but now I actually enjoy the taste, ever since Greg made me Caesar salad ALL OUTTA SCRATCH some years ago for Valentines, hahha! It was such a pleasant and errrr once in a blue moon kind of surprise so it stuck with me, lol.

  15. says:

    August 20, 2015 at 9:12 am

    Daydreaming about food is pretty much all I do, so I very much understand the need for a designated space to do it! Also, this recipe looks fantastic– salmon on lettuce is just so elegant, probably because of the gorgeous pink and green colors. So rad! xo

  16. says:

    August 20, 2015 at 11:55 am

    This salad looks so good, especially with the salmon! I always love your recipes Cynthia, they’re so on point every time. We had a similar experience to your’s last summer at Frankies. Got there, no wait, seated in the patio, perfect weather, watched the sun go down while enjoying amazing food. Ah, so good. Unfortunately we haven’t been seated in the patio (if we can even get a seat without waiting 2 hours) this year since they seem to have a wedding out back every day. Gah! I want to tell people to stop getting married at Frankies. Anyways, love this!

  17. says:

    August 21, 2015 at 10:21 am

    I recently pre-order the Food52 Vegan cookbook and I am hoping it has a Caesar salad recipe like this! I simple love your photos and your style. The shadow play and dark background always catch my eye.

  18. says:

    August 24, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Omg. Cynthia!! This is so good. I have made a Caesar salad dressing the old school way before but I like this way so much better. Maybe it’s just the poetic way you described it or that you paired it up with that hunky salmon?(!!!). I can’t decide. But I’m alll over this.

  19. says:

    August 26, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Yay for moving up! And the fact that you have cookbooks on the shelf of your law office is so awesome! That genius recipe book is so stellar.. I am cooking my way through it. Definitely need to make this salad. πŸ™‚

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