Secrets to a glorious Grilled Caesar Salad
Grilled Caesar salad falls under the "snazzy" category in my book of favorite recipes. A simple technique that lends a taste of summer to the dish. Convenient because you are most likely going to grill something else on the grill too so it's not much effort to create this smoky, delightful salad after you have taken off the other items. I made this recently while I was grilling a head of red cabbage and onions.
Non-Salad Eaters will like this salad because who doesn't like grilled food right? I would serve this for a summer dinner party on the porch, and pair it with a few other grilled protein items to go on top.
The history behind the iconic salad
I have always been fascinated with the history of the Caesar salad. World-foodhistory.com tells the story just like I have heard it over the years.
In 1924, restaurateur Caesar Cardini (1896–1956) invented the Caesar Salad at the restaurant of the Hotel Caesar in Tijuana, Mexico, over the Fourth of July weekend.
Running low on food, Cardini tossed together leftover ingredients from his kitchen—romaine lettuce, garlic, croutons, Parmesan cheese, boiled eggs, olive oil, and Worcestershire sauce – to create a salad for his guests at tableside.
Caesar salad became particularly popular with the Hollywood movie crowd that frequented Tijuana during Prohibition and it was a feature dish at Chasen’s and Romanoff’s in Los Angeles.
Caesar salad went on to be voted the “greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in fifty years” by the International Society of Epicures in Paris.
In the late 1930s, the Caesar salad was popularized in Europe by Walls Simpson, who, as the Duchess of Windsor, ( remember her from the Crown on Netflix?) traveled widely with the Prince of Wales. In 1948, Caesar Cardini trademarked the garlic dressing that gives the salad its distinctive flavor.
Ingredients used in this recipe
Anchovies- The usual tin of anchovies in oil will work great. You can't even taste them by the time you get the rest of the ingredients in. The plant-based recipe would omit.
Garlic cloves- fresh is best, it's the signature ingredient that makes this dressing sing!
Mayo- Low or fat-free works well, if plant-based, sub vegan, or egg-free mayo.
Half and a half- Fat-free, regular or plant-based all work, it used to thin the mayo to a dressing consistency
Parmesan Cheese-shredded adds a bit of weight and umami flavor to the salad. The plant-based option would be to use a vegan Parmesan or omit it and make your own Parmesan out of equal parts of nutritional yeast, chopped fine cashews or sesame seeds and bread crumbs
Lemon juice- Fresh is best here, it gives it that hint of citrus freshness we love with our greens.
Dijon mustard- Smooth works best, but the country-style will work too. It helps keep the dressing from separating
Salt and pepper- according to your taste preference
Worcestershire Sauce- Standard fare suggested, it gives it a bit of sour flavor to enhance the garlic.
Romaine lettuce- I usually buy the grocery store 3 pack, that size is perfect for a portion cut in half if you buy the lettuce by the head, you may want to cut it in quarters
Croutons- It's best if you make your own, in fact, I would make these:
Check out this link for Anchovy Croutons made with sourdough bread.
Equipment Needed for this recipe
Grill- I use wood fired because that's how we roll in the Northwoods, but charcoal will do just fine, you want a hot fire. I use my trusty Webber but gas would work too.
Food processor or blender- You will want to make your caesar dressing in this.
Cutting board and a sharp knife- for cutting the romaine heads in half.
Half sheet pan or cookie sheet- to carry the heads out to the grill on and have a place for them to land after they cook.
Tongs- for the grill, the longer the better
Measuring cups and spoons- for the dressing, accurate measuring makes a delicious product.
Grilling salads is a quick and easy showstopper in my book. Prepare to amaze your friends and family.
Wash your lettuce well and dry off as best you can, otherwise, your lettuce will steam.
Make sure to cut off any dirty part of the bottom of the head. That's a breeding ground of germs from being in the dirt
Some cooks will oil the lettuce before putting it on the grill some do not. I am in the no oil camp because it's not on the grill long enough to stick.
Cook over direct heat, and turn more if the fire is really hot.
Some folks skip the dressing and just drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce and lemon.
Serve with grilled garlic bread alongside the salad greens.
A trick I saw on another site while researching was to add a sprinkle of sugar to the lettuce before serving.
Pair with a light oak Chardonnay, stay away from a heavily oaked wine for tastiest results.
It only takes about 2 minutes per side to grill lettuce
Quick and easy! Great for a summer dinner party
Glorious Grilled Caesar Salad
The dressing was given to me by my good friend Mandy, who is an amazing cook! The recipe reflects a low fat, low carb version. For a plant-based version, substitute vegan mayo for regular, plant milk for 1/2 and 1/2, leave out the anchovy and cheese or use vegan non-dairy cheese and use a vegan Worcestershire. If you have no preferences, full-fat dairy will be amazing too. The dressing will yield 2 cups and makes a great dip too.
Serving size: 4
2 garlic cloves
1 cup of mayo (low fat or fat-free)
1/4 cup half and a half (fat-free)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (optional)
2 heads romaine lettuce
1 cup croutons (see ingredient notes)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Step 1. In processor or blender, process anchovies and garlic, add rest of ingredients and puree. Set aside. Step 2. Trim the end of the romaine heads, but leave it intact for grilling. Cut in half and place on a baking tray. Step 3. Heat grill over a hot fire, place romaine cut side facing grill. Grill for 2 minutes and turn over, grill on the other side for 2 minutes and remove from grill. Step 4. Place grilled half on a plate and drizzle with dressing and garnish with Parmesan cheese. Top with croutons and serve.