In Wednesday’s post I showed how to grill a hen, and I paired it with this salad. Grilled Caesar Salad isn’t new, and it’s sort of a trendy dish (perhaps in a bad way?). But there’s something about it that I enjoy. A quick char on some of the leaves, mixed with the freshly washed lettuce and a spicy (not spicy hot, but spicy flavorful) dressing. It’s just a fun thing to eat.
I’ve never been happy with a homemade Caesar dressing. I’m not sure if I just haven’t had a good recipe or what, but I’ve tried several and they never turn out quite right. Which is sad, because Caesar dressing is something I’d love to be good at. But, there was this one time where I made a crappy Caesar dressing, and decided to just run with it. I added stuff until I made what I call my Caesar vinaigrette, and it’s not too bad (that’s modesty – it’s actually friggen delicious). Here’s how you make the dressing:
• 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
• 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
• 1/2 Tablespoon Champagne Vinegar
• 2 Medium-sized Garlic Cloves, minced (if you don’t have a garlic press, this one is the best I’ve used)
3/4 Cup Mayo
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
1/4 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Ground Pepper
2 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 Pinches of Kosher Salt
Whisk the bulleted ingredients together in a bowl and let sit for a minute or two. This dressing is prepared and served cold, meaning it’s never cooked. Garlic is just too intense when served raw – it burns and is not pleasant. By mixing the garlic with the lemon juice and vinegars, the acid semi-cooks the garlic and removes the harshness. Add the rest of the ingredients, whisk together until smooth and taste. Adjust seasonings as needed, put in the fridge.
Caesar salad is always topped with croutons. Well, we’re gluten-free in this household, so we top our salads with homemade granola. If you want to use croutons, go for it. I showed how to make granola in this post, but for this salad I wanted it to be a little herby, and not just sweet. Here’s how this granola went down:
1 Cup Rolled Oats (gluten-free for us)
1 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Chopped Pine Nuts
1 1/2 Tsp Dried Basil
1 1/2 Tsp Fresh Oregano, chopped
1/4 Cup Honey
1/2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Toast your oats, pine nuts and basil in a pan on medium low heat with the olive oil. Toss frequently until it starts smelling and looking toasted (oats will turn slightly brown). Add the honey and balsamic vinegar and toss around to coat evenly. Cook in the pan for about 1 minute, then add the fresh oregano, stir, pour onto some butcher paper or wax paper, and stick in the freezer for 10 minutes or so. Break into pieces.
For the lettuce, get a head of Romain. 1 large head of Romain will serve 4 people. Cut into quarters, and clean them gently, like so:
I fill a baking sheet halfway with cold water, and swish the lettuce around in it gently. This will get any little bugs or dirt that might be hanging out in the leaves, out. Lay your lettuce down on a few layers of paper towel and rotate every couple of minutes to let most of the water drip out.
Once mostly dry, brush each side with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Yes, I know I’ve said not to grill with extra virgin olive oil. But the lettuce is on the grill for only a few seconds each side, so the oil won’t have time to burn. It’ll be ok, I promise. :)
Grill on each of the 3 sides for maybe 30 seconds each. If the leaves are getting too blackened, take it off. If not enough, leave it on longer. Crazy how that works, huh?
Once the lettuce is done, then you’re ready to go. Top with some of the crumbled granola and the dressing. Lay it down so the cut side is up, so the dressing can seep down into the leaves a little. You can also top with some shaved parmesan, though I usually don’t since the dressing has a generous amount in it.
And that’s all she wrote. I’d suggest serving it with grilled poultry, like the hen from Wednesday or just some grilled chicken breast seasoned with salt and pepper and a squirt of grilled lemon. It’s a great summer side dish and, if you haven’t had a grilled salad before, I think you’ll be surprised how much you like it.
Cheers, everyone. Have a great weekend.
Grilled Romain Topped with Caesar Vinaigrette and Herbed Granola
For the Dressing:
- 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
- 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 Tablespoon Champagne Vinegar
- 2 Medium-sized Garlic Cloves minced
- 3/4 Cup Mayo
- 1 Egg
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
- 1/4 Cup Water
- 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tsp Ground Pepper
- 2 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 Pinches of Kosher Salt
For the Granola
- 1 Cup Rolled Oats gluten-free for us
- 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp Chopped Pine Nuts
- 1 1/2 tsp Dried Basil
- 1 1/2 tsp Fresh Oregano chopped
- 1/4 Cup Honey
- 1/2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
For the Grilled Romaine
- 1 head of romaine lettuce
- Extra virgin olive oil for brushing
- Salt and pepper
First, make the dressing:
- In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar, and minced garlic. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow the acid in the lemon juice and vinegars to remove the harshness from the garlic.
- Whisk in the rest of the ingredients for the dressing. Taste and adjust salt level as desired, then place the dressing in the fridge.
Make the granola:
- Heat a pan on medium low heat. Add the rolled oats, pine nuts, basil, extra virgin olive oil, and toast until the oats turn light brown.
- Add the honey and balsamic vinegar and toss to coat evenly. Let this cook in the pan for about 1 minute.
- Add the fresh chopped oregano and mix together well.
- Pour the granola onto wax paper and place in the freezer to cool for about 10 minutes.
Grill the romaine:
- Heat a grill on high.
- Cut the head of romaine into quarters, and submerge each piece in water. Swish around in the water gently to allow any dirt trapped in the leaves to escape. Lay each piece on a couple layers of paper towel and rotate every couple of minutes to allow the water to drip out of the leaves.
- Brush each side of the lettuce lightly with the extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on all sides.
- Grill each lettuce quarter for 20-30 seconds on each of the 3 sides. Remove from heat.
- Lay the lettuce quarters on separate plates, with the cut sides facing up so the dressing will penetrate into the leaves. Drizzle a little of the dressing over each serving and top with some of the crumbled herbed granola.