Grilled Caesar Salads
The bright-tasting dressing is easy to prepare—no need for a blender or food processor—and is egg and anchovy free. Anchovy fans may absolutely serve them alongside the salad. See the recipe notes for some helpful tips and my favorite ways to turn this into a complete meal.

Yield: 4 servings (adjust as needed: each head of romaine will yield 2 salads)

For the dressing

  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the salads

  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise *
  • Olive Oil
  • Options for serving: additional grated Parmesan; hearty bread or croutons; chicken, salmon, or shrimp; anchovies


  1. For the dressing: combine the lemon juice, Dijon, and garlic. Add the olive oil in a steady stream while whisking in constantly.  Stir in the cheese.  The dressing may be made in advance, covered, and refrigerated until serving. Stir or shake well before using.
  2. Preheat the grill to high heat. Lightly brush both sides of the romaine halves with olive oil or spray with an olive oil mister (I’ve also brushed with the dressing). Place the romaine, face down, on the hot (uncovered) grill for 1-2 minutes or until light golden grill marks appear. Flip, and grill for another minute or two.  Watch the romaine closely. The outside of the lettuce should be slightly caramelized while the insides are still cool and crisp.
  3. Remove from the grill, and brush the cut sides of each romaine half with the dressing. I like to use a pastry brush to work some of the dressing into the crevices. Sprinkle with a little extra Parmesan, croutons, or your favorite Caesar salad toppings. Serve immediately with extra dressing, to taste.


  • *Discard any limp or blemished outer lettuce leaves. For smaller, more compact salads, hearts of romaine may be used. You may also wish to chop off the top 1-2 inches of the lettuce head—the tips of the leaves tend to be less crisp and don’t hold up as well on the grill–and shave off a thin sliver of the root end if browned. Just be sure to leave the root end intact so that the lettuce head holds together.
  • The dressing recipe may be cut recipe in half, depending on how many people are being served. Any extra dressing, however, will keep in fridge for about a week or can be used to marinate chicken, salmon or shrimp or to baste bread before grilling.
  • To round out the meal, make enough dressing to use on the salads and to marinate your choice of chicken, salmon, or shrimp. (Figure on approximately 1/3 cup marinade per pound of protein when marinating in a zip-top bag.) Start grilling the protein before the romaine, as the lettuce doesn’t take long. Chicken can be marinated all day; fish will benefit from a 30-60 minute soak. For a hint of last-minute flavor, I have brushed the chicken/fish with the dressing just prior to grilling and basted with more while cooking. Finally, for a tasty extra, brush both sides of some hearty bread and grill that, too. Bread should be grilled just long enough to toast and create some grill marks. Be careful as it can burn quickly. Serve whole pieces on the side or cut the grilled bread into cubes and use as croutons.

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