Grilled Lettuce? Oh, Yes!
It may sound strange, but this Grilled Caesar Salad is extraordinary. Try it next time you have the grill heated up!
Before grilling whole hearts, brush them with tangy Caesar Vinaigrette to add flavor and protect the tender leaves from the heat. A brief stint over the flames gives the romaine a smoky flavor and gently wilts the outside, leaving the innermost leaves crisp.
Shavings of Parmesan cheese are the customary garnish for Caesar salad, but in this salad grated Parmesan bakes into crisp disks that can be served whole or crumbled over the salad. This, plus the Parmesan Croutons, gives the salad a double hit of this delicious cheese. (Don’t want to bother with making homemade croutons? Just use your store-bought favorites — but it’s simple and really worth it to make the Parmesan crisps. Trust us.)
Grilled Caesar Salad with Parmesan Crisps
- From Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook by Myra Goodman
Ingredients – Parmesan Croutons
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves Earthbound Farm Organic Garlic (peeled and crushed)
- 3 cups bread cubes (1/2-inch cubes cut from day-old bread, such as a baguette)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
Ingredients – Caesar Vinaigrette
- 1 large clove Earthbound Farm Organic Garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 fresh lemon)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Ingredients – Salad
- 1/4 pound Parmesan cheese (finely grated, about 1-1/3 cups)
- 4 whole Earthbound Farm Organic Romaine Hearts (carefully rinsed and dried)
- 1/2 cup Caesar Vinaigrette
- Parmesan Croutons
- To make the Parmesan croutons:
- Cook the butter, olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan over very low heat until hot, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the butter mixture from the heat and let sit at room temperature to develop the flavor, about 1 hour.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.
- Place the bread cubes in a large bowl. Remove and discard the garlic from the butter mixture, then pour it over the bread cubes and toss to coat. Spread the bread cubes on a large-rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Bake the croutons until they are golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the croutons while they're still warm. Spread out the croutons on paper towels to absorb any excess oil. If you aren't planning to serve the croutons immediately, let them cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They will keep for up to 3 days refrigerated.
- To make the Parmesan crisps:
- Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Spoon the grated cheese on the parchment paper, making four 3-inch rounds about 1/4-inch thick, spaced 1 inch apart. Bake the cheese until it bubbles and turns golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the Parmesan crisps to paper towels to cool.
- To make the Caesar Vinaigrette:
- Place the garlic, mustard, anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce in a small bowl and, using a fork, mash them into a paste.
- Add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Whisking constantly, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. Continue to whisk until the dressing thickens. The vinaigrette can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 week. Let it return to room temperature before using.
- To create the salad:
- Set up a barbecue grill and preheat it to high.
- Leaving the romaine hearts intact, liberally brush each with some of the Caesar Vinaigrette. Gently separate the leaves so that you can brush the inner leaves, too. Set the remaining Caesar Vinaigrette aside.
- Place the whole romaine hearts on the grill and cook, turning frequently, until the outer leaves are wilted and charred slightly, about 4 minutes.
- Transfer the romaine hearts to a cutting board and cut off the stem ends so that the leaves separate. Arrange the romaine on a large platter. Sprinkle the croutons over the lettuce. Arrange the whole Parmesan crisps on the platter or break them into bite-size pieces and sprinkle them over the salad. Serve immediately with the remaining Caesar Vinaigrette on the side.