Grilled Caesar Salads
Yield: 4 servings (easy to make as few or many as needed)
Cool, crisp romaine is quickly seared and then brushed with a classic, creamy Caesar dressing for salad that's destined to become a family and entertaining favorite. For a complete meal, grill salmon, shrimp, chicken, or steak to serve alongside.


Ingredients

  • 2 large heads of romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise (see notes)
  • Olive or avocado oil or spray
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Classic Caesar Salad Dressing or your favorite creamy store-bought Caesar dressing
  • Optional for serving: Parmesan Croutons (or your favorite store-bought) or Polenta Croutons; halved or quartered cherry tomatoes; anchovies; shredded Parmesan cheese
  • For a complete meal: grilled chicken, salmon, steak, shrimp, seared tofu, sautéed mushrooms and/or roasted chickpeas

Instructions

  1. Before you start: The goal is to quickly sear the surface of the romaine while keeping it crisp. A HOT grill will make this happen. It’s also best to put the romaine on the grill when it’s cold from the fridge. This helps achieve the lightly seared surface with an interior that’s still crisp and cool.

    Advance prep: You may cut the romaine up to two hours in advance. I often place it on a platter and refrigerate, uncovered, and then lightly spray with oil just before grilling. If prepping in advance, do not salt, as the salt will draw out moisture, making it difficult to get a good, quick sear on the grill.

    When ready to eat: Preheat the grill to high. Lightly brush both sides of the romaine halves with olive or avocado oil or lightly spray with an oil mister. You may season with some salt and pepper now or wait to do it upon serving.
    Place the romaine, cut side down, on the hot (uncovered) grill for 1-2 minutes or until lightly charred in spots. Flip, and grill for another minute. Watch closely; the outside of the lettuce should be golden in places (a few charred spots are fine) while the insides are still cool and crisp.
    Remove from the grill and sprinkle with salt and pepper if you did not do this earlier. Evenly brush the cut sides of each romaine half with dressing – I go light, just a tablespoon or so, and then serve with additional dressing on the side for people to add more if they like. Also, I often use a pastry brush, which makes it easy to work the dressing into the crevices. Sprinkle with croutons and optional toppings of choice.

    For a complete meal, add grilled chicken, salmon, shrimp, or steak. Seared tofu and/or sautéed mushrooms are great vegetarian options. For those who enjoy, mushrooms offer a lovely addition along with any of seafood and meat options.


Notes & Tips

What if the hearts of romaine aren’t very big? Large hearts of romaine work well; you want to have two substantial portions when halved. If they are slender, I use one whole heart per serving, slicing a thin layer from one side to make a flat surface for the grill.

Discard any limp or blemished outer lettuce leaves and cut off a thin sliver of the root end if browned. Just be sure to leave the stem end intact so the lettuce holds together.

Mix it up: Grilled Caesars are also delicious with Parmesan peppercorn dressing.

Leftovers? While the salads are best served immediately, we have refrigerated leftovers and enjoyed the next day. In this case, enjoy cold from the fridge rather than reheating.


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