Monday, August 7, 2006

Grilled Caesar Salad

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!


  1. Yummy. I love this idea, and I always buy those hearts of romaine at Costco. In fact, I have some right now!

  2. This looks great!! I love Caesar salad--and grilling would make it so much better. I think it's very hard to blog on vacation. I took my laptop when I went on my vacation---and never did a single post. So, I know how that goes! I think you were wise to spend the time with friends and enjoy Ashland. :)

  3. Kalyn,
    It is very yummy and I would be interested to see how you might do it because you're the woman who never followed a recipe in her life! ;)

    Yep! Sometimes blogging takes a necessary back seat! I'm glad I didn't stress about it.

  4. Hi Christine,
    Your grilled ceasar looks beautiful. I recall seeing a recipe involving grilled romaine a couple years ago, but it apparently has not caught on. Great, original dish! I am jealous of your shakespeare-centric vacation. I love theater. There is no Shakespeare in the Park in South Florida--how do I live here?!

  5. Julie,
    No Shakespeare? How sad! You'll just have to plan a trip to Ashland some day. ;)
    I had never seen a recipe for grilled romaine before, so this was a new one for me. Too bad the finished product isn't very photogenic, as you can see.

  6. Hi Paz, Thanks for checking in. I'm off to read your latest post!

  7. That's sounds really good! Wow!

  8. Hi Glenna, Thanks for stopping by. Love your frito chili pie!

  9. I'm spotlighting this recipe as one of my "South Beach Recipes of the Week" where I share South Beach friendly recipes I find on other food blogs. I thought this looked fantastic.

  10. Thanks so much Kalyn!! You're the greatest!

  11. I had a grilled romaine salad a few years ago in a restaurant in Yakima, WA, which has since closed (the restaurant, not the city), and it was delicious (the salad, not the city). Happy to find your recipe. I'm going to prepare it tonight. Why did you decide to delete the basil? I have so much basil growing in two pots on the patio, I've been looking for excuses to use some!

    And, P.S., Karen and I make annual treks to Ashland (and also take in a concert at the Britt Music Festival in nearby Jacksonville). It's a week for the soul!

  12. Hello Jim,
    I hope your grilled Caesar turned out well. The reason I left out the basil, if I remember right, is that I believe it burned a little in the grilling process. That, and basil doesn't appear in any Caesar salads that I'm aware of.
    I love Jacksonville!

  13. Yum. I love the idea of a griller Caesar!! I just blogged about one I had in Seattle at a cute winebar. Check it out! Love the header detail of your blog as well!!


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