Have you ever tried grilling lettuce? A few months ago, I might have compared it to grilling a tulip― firstly, look away for two seconds and it might wilt, and, secondly, why bother?
It's worth it, I promise you. This salad took several tries to get right, even with the combined effort of my grillmaster husband, but I’m planning on making it again and again.
I wasn’t always sold on this idea. Who likes warm lettuce? I like my lettuce like I like my gin― ice cold and never dirty. Then, several months ago, I wrote a review of this restaurant, which offered a grilled Caesar on the menu. I believe my reaction went something like this:
Me: Ew, look, one of their appetizers is a grilled Caesar salad.
Merrick (reacting with appropriate level of disgust): Weird. Should we split the arugula salad for an appetizer, then?
Me: What are you talking about? I gotta try that Caesar!
Both the restaurant and the salad quickly made it onto my favorites list. The lettuce is gently charred, bringing out the depth and subtle sweetness in the Romaine, with crunchy grilled bread standing in for croutons. I absolutely adore white anchovies, which have a milder flavor than the brown, so I implore the squeamish among you to try them! But if you're not convinced, this salad would also work perfectly alongside grilled chicken or fish.
The dressing is of the ultra-puckery variety, which I love, but if the lemon juice is too much for you, swap out half of it for 1 tablespoon of cold water.
Grilled Caesar Salad
Inspired by The Abbey
2 whole heads Romaine Lettuce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices rustic white or wheat bread, cut in half to make 4 pieces
Puckery Caesar Dressing (recipe below)
12 white anchovies
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Heat a charcoal grill to medium-hot (Test the temperatureby holding your hand 5 inches above the grill grate; if you can hold your hand there for only three to four seconds, the fire is medium-hot).
2. Slice the Romaine in half, leaving the cores intact. Brush the cut sides with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place onto the hot grill; grill uncovered for about 1 minute, until halves start to char. Take them from the grill and place each half on a separate plate.
3. Brush the bread slices with the remaining tablespoon of oil, then toss them onto the grill. Grill them, turning once, for about 30 seconds per side or until nicely charred. Plate the bread next to the lettuce halves.
4. Drizzle each Romaine half with Puckery Caesar Dressing. Drape 3 anchovies over each half, and then sprinkle with the Parmesan.
Puckery Caesar Dressing
Note that this version of Caesar dressing contains a raw egg yolk, the use of which can carry health risks. For your own safety, research the health concerns and make your own personal decision.
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Whisk together the mustard, garlic, egg yolk, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add the olive oil in a slow but steady stream, whisking constantly until entirely blended.