Fried Lemon Caesar Salad is full of beautiful fried lemon slices and makes for a delicious Caesar Salad with a unique, fun twist. It’s a lovely appetizer salad, and you can add chicken and turn it into a hearty main course.
It might be a stretch to call my Fried Lemon Caesar Salad a twist on the classic, but that’s what I’m doing. I took most of the lemon out of the dressing and added that lovely flavor with fried lemon slices in the salad itself.
Fried lemon slices are delicious. The lemons caramelize, making them sweeter and less pungent, but still quite lemon-y.
Frying citrus almost doesn’t seem like a natural thing to do, but it’s actually quite remarkable.
They have an added layer of flavor, and it’s sweet. When they’re fried, the sour, tart lemons caramelize, bringing all of the natural sugars to the surface. They’ll still be sour and tart, of course, but the sweetness rounds the flavor out a bit.
How to Fry Lemons
- Choose the right lemon. Ideally, you want a thin-skinned, seedless lemon. While you can use any lemons for this recipe, Meyers are preferable because their skin is thinner than most other lemons. Fried lemons are better with a thin skin because too much of the pith (the white part between the skin and the fruit), won’t taste as good, and doesn’t look as appealing. Most lemons have at least a few seeds — the fewer the better so the slices stay more intact.
- Season with salt, pepper and sugar. The pepper will add flavor, while both the salt and sugar will help brighten the natural flavor of the lemon.
- The pan should be very hot. Treat the lemon slices like ahi tuna you want to sear. The hotter the pan is when the lemon hits it, the more likely it is to get a beautiful, golden caramelization on the surface.
- This is a quick process. We only want to quickly brown the lemons — if they’re in the hot pan for too long, they’ll become mushy. We’re not actually cooking them, just browning them. Again, think of the seared ahi tuna.
My cousin laughed the other day when I asked her if she’d like any “citrus.” I could have been more specific I suppose, but in my mind, citrus may as well be its own food group!
Oh, and Lemon-Garlic Croutons are also part of what make this Fried Lemon Caesar Salad so good.
I hope you love it!
Fried Meyer Lemon Ceasar Salad Recipe
For the fried lemons
- 2 lemons (preferably Meyer lemons)
- salt, granulated sugar and freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
For the dressing
For the salad:
- 3 heads Romaine lettuce, washed and dried, roughly chopped
- 2 cups Lemon-Garlic Croutons (click here for the recipe)
- 1 cup Parmesan, shaved
For the fried lemons
- Wash, dry, and thinly slice the lemons -- placing them on a large plate as you go. You should get about 8 slices per lemon, and they should be about 1/8-inch thick.
- Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with olive oil, place it over medium-high heat. While the pan is preheating, sprinkle both sides of the lemon slices with salt, pepper and sugar. This should be a light sprinkling, but enough to season each slice well.
- Once the pan is very hot, add the lemon slices and sauté until the bottoms are golden brown, about 1 minute. Use a tiny spatula to gently flip the slices, and brown the other side, about 30 seconds. Place the sautéed lemons slices on a plate to cool. Set aside.
- Once cooled, cut each sautéd lemon slice into fourths -- you can stack a few at a time to do this. Set aside.
For the dressing
- In a small bowl, combine the anchovies, garlic, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, and honey. Mix to blend. Gradually, pour in the oil, whisking all the while to blend it evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. (Here's How to Season to Taste.)
For the salad
- In a large salad bowl, mix the lettuce with the Lemon-Garlic Croutons, Parmesan and the fried lemons.
- Just before you're ready to serve, toss the salad with the dressing.