I'm just back from 5 days in Ashland, seeing excellent plays, eating great food and, best of all, visiting with wonderful friends. I had thought to write a few posts while I was there, but after several days and a number of missed photo opportunities went by, I realized that I wasn't there to blog; I was there to have carefree fun and fully give myself over to being with my friends. And while I'm normally quite adept at multi-tasking, I guess I'm just not up to the task of blogging while on vacation, much as I might aspire to do so. Oh well, I'll leave that to others who do it so much better.
So what does all this have to do with the title of this post? While taking a walk through an Ashland neighborhood with dear friends Linda and Susan, Linda told me about this grilled salad that she and her husband make in the summer. Thinking I would remember the ingredients, I didn't write them down, silly me. So I had to improvise on what I thought I remembered her telling me. As I was putting this together it reminded me of Caesar salad, thus the title. This is so darned delicious and different from anything I've done before. Just how does one "grill" a salad? Here's how: (And if I've strayed too far from your ingredients Linda, my apologies.)
3 hearts of romaine lettuce, floppy outer leaves removed, core end left intact
2 ounces anchovy fillets, chopped fine (about 3 tablespoons chopped paste)
1 teaspoon garlic paste
2 teaspoons very good (8 year old) balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
freshly grated parmesan for topping
Pre-heat grill to medium high. (We have a gas grill; a charcoal grill would work as well.)
Chop the anchovy fillets and mash to a fine paste then add the garlic paste, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and chopped basil. Whisk well to combine. (If you buy the anchovy fillets packed in oil, drain the oil before mashing them.)
Cut the hearts of romaine in half lengthwise through the core end, keeping the leaves attached to each core half.
Using a pastry brush, brush the anchovy paste onto the cut side of each romaine half then turn over and brush the other side. Use all the paste for this step.
Place the romaine halves, cut side down, on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. Turn over carefully and grill an additional 3 minutes. The lettuce should be crispy and golden on the outside and meltingly soft on the inside.
When done, sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
As we sat at the table devouring our 'salad', I decided that here's what I'll do next time:
Prepare the anchovy paste, omitting the fresh basil, and set aside.
Depending on the number of salads you're making, slice the same number of long, thin slices from a round of good sour dough bread and brush both sides of each piece with olive oil. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and toast in a 500-degree oven for about 10 minutes, turning the pieces over halfway through the toasting time, until the slices are golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately rub one side of each 'crouton' with a piece of peeled, fresh garlic.
Prepare the romaine hearts as above and when they're finished grilling, lay each one on a crouton, sprinkle with parmesan and serve hot.
Now that's a grilled Caesar salad!