A simple and delicious Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad elevated with some smoky crispy pancetta (or bacon), grilled lemon, and grilled baguette slices to sub for croutons. This grilled Caesar salad is the perfect side dish for your grilled meats or backyard BBQ and you’re gonna love it!
I’m a huge fan of grilled salads. It’s one of the rare ways I can get that hubby of mine to indulge in salad. Otherwise he acts like I’m punishing him by serving him greens. But not with this one!
Fresh romaine is key for this grilled Caesar salad. Fresh hearts of romaine or the fresh bunch of romaine both work really well.
For the croutons go with a baguette or French bread. The goal is to grill it as a crouton.
For the Caesar Dressing the real flavor goal is to use anchovies or anchovy paste. If using fresh anchovies, use two. If using anchovy paste – start with 1 teaspoon. If you don’t like either, you can also substitute Worcestershire Sauce. The rest of the dressing is the classic ingredients including egg yolk, lots of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, grilled lemon juice, salt, and good olive oil. The full list of ingredients is in the recipe card.
The whole thing comes together easily. It starts with making the Caesar Dressing, then grilling the romaine and ending with building the salad. Get the grill ready using a two-zone grilling set up and targeting 400 degrees F in the cooking chamber.
To start you want to make grilled lemons. The grilled lemon juice is going into your Caesar dressing, so it’s best to do that first. I like to do the lemons and bread (for your “croutons”) together, since the bread won’t be served hot (though you can if you want to).
When they’re done you can toss the romaine on.
Next prep your creamy dressing (super simple, see below), then drizzle over those gorgeous grilled romaine hearts.
Place the anchovies, garlic, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese in the food processor and grind until they turn into a paste. Then add the wet ingredients (the grilled lemon juice, egg yolks, Dijon mustard, and olive oil). Blend on low until it emulsifies. This will take at least a minute, on low.
The texture should be thick. If it’s too thin add more cheese. If you taste too much oil, add cheese and Dijon.
We love this as a side dish or starter, or as a full meal if you add one of those recommended proteins.
Using dry romaine lettuce and high heat, grill the lettuce direct for a good char and then add your favorite Caesar salad dressing. Be sure the lettuce is dry so it doesn’t wilt.
Using the two halves of the romaine hears, rinse under cold water and pat dry. If you have a salad spinner, add two hearts at a time and then spin until dry.
If you can’t find or don’t want anchovies, use anchovy paste. If you don’t want anchovy paste you can use Worcestershire sauce.
The key characteristics in the dish are the lightly charred notes on the romaine, as well as the bright acidity in the dressing balanced with the creamy texture. Don’t get all freaked out about the anchovies, as there are only 2 in this dressing, and they provide more of a mildly salty and savory note rather than anything fishy. Believe me!
For this particular meal we paired this dish with a very unlikely candidate. A Riesling. Ideally a dry riesling is best to match the acidity and char from the dressing and grill flavor. Be sure to check out some great options in our online wine marketplace.
Other options include:
*This recipe was first published in August of 2018 and updated in June of 2022 with recipe steps, FAQ, and alternatives to ingredients.
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Chef’s Tip: Be sure the romaine is DRY before grilling. If wet or if oiled it will wilt because it takes longer to cook. You want it dry so it simply chars.
Alternatives to anchovies: If you don’t like anchovies, use anchovy paste (1 teaspoon), or Worcestershire (1 teaspoon) sauce.
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