This is a delightful twist on that ubiquitous classic, Caesar Salad.
Grilling the lettuce before putting the dressing on doesn’t in any way diminish it’s crunch and there’s something rather wonderful about warm, crunchy lettuce oozing with melted Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a classic Caesar dressing.
There are no croutons here. If you can’t bear the thought of a Caesar salad without croutons, I recommend serving some thinly sliced and buttered baguette, topped with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and popped under the grill for a minute or so.
Although you can’t taste them, the dressing contains anchovies which makes this salad unsuitable for vegetarians – but if you leave them out, the end result will definitely taste flat, so don’t be tempted to do so.
The entire thing can be whipped up in no time and this salad is sure to impress. Be sure to use the best Italian Parmesan cheese and you’ll need a ridged grill pan, otherwise make this on your BBQ grill outside which will be more fun.
GRILLED CAESAR SALAD
2 hearts of Romaine lettuce (that’s Cos lettuce in the UK) trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons of extra-v olive oil
1/2 cup (120ml measure) of grated or shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
For the dressing:
1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
6 canned anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
2 teaspoons of best quality mayonnaise
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1/2 cup (120ml) of extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (go easy on the salt)
Start by whisking all the dressing ingredients together until you have a thick emulsion then set it aside.
Get your grill or grill pan nice and hot. Brush the cut sides of the lettuce halves with olive oil and put them cut side down in the grill pan (or on the BBQ grill) for a minute or so until you have nice scorch marks. Rotate them and grill for another minute so that you have a criss-cross of grill marks.
If you’re using a stove-top grill pan, heat the broiler/oven grill.
Transfer the lettuce halves to a baking tray cut side up and brush each generously with the dressing, making sure that you get it into all the crevasses of the lettuce. Sprinkle each with Parmesan and either leave them to one side of the outdoor grill under cover for a minute or two until the cheese melts, or put them under the grill/broiler on your stove until the cheese melts – don’t let the cheese burn.
To serve, brush them with any remaining dressing and scatter with more cheese, followed by a good grind of black pepper.
Eat right away!