Grilled Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

Grilled salad? I know, sounds weird doesn’t it? I was filled with a sense of disbelief and certainly some trepidation myself when I was first introduced to a salad with grilled Romaine lettuce a couple of years ago at the Snowmass Culinary and Arts Festival. The cooking demonstration by Diane Hendricks was fun but the best part was my first taste of that smoky, delicious salad with grilled Romaine. That salad was finished with a simple dressing and served on paper plates for a crowd but I learned something new and have since used the same technique to make this Grilled Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons on several occasions. Be forewarned…do NOT try this with iceburg or green/red leaf lettuces; OK?

I invited some friends to join me for dinner this past weekend; all women that I’ve known over the years that I’ve recently connected with on Facebook. Sandy, my neighbor when I was going through a divorce and lost touch with when my girls and I moved from our neighborhood 25 years ago (sorry you couldn’t make it after all Sandy; next time!). I met Pam when I went to work after that divorce at a large cable company. We lost touch when I left that job and Pam married and moved to the mountains; she has since moved back to this area and we saw each other on Facebook and have gotten together a few times; she was even kind enough to come help me with kitchen boxes when I moved. You know how huge THAT job is!

Cheryl was a friend I met when I was a member of a local Chamber of Commerce; we were a part of a group that always had a great time at Chamber events. Promote our businesses? I don’t know but we sure had fun socializing. I left the Chamber about the same time Cheryl and her husband were breaking up and somehow lost touch. I met Roanne through some Meetup groups; we both participated in a movie group and I ran a Denver wine meetup. We got together to drink wine…I think today it would have to be cocktails though, right?

caesar-salaGrilled Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutonsd-lemon

I hope all my food blogging friends will sympathize when I asked THE DAY BEFORE if I had to be concerned about any food issues. Let’s see. Gluten Free. Lactose Intolerant. No Beef, Chicken, Pork, Fish or Shellfish. Eggs and dairy OK. Thankfully NO ONE said no booze. I would have cried!

I found some Gluten Free Crackers at Costco that I served with cream cheese topped with my favorite Blackberry Serrano jam and accompanied the appetizer with Lemon Drop Martinis. For our main course I decided to make this Grilled Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons and have a couple of options on the side including grilled chicken and flank steak, chopped hard boiled eggs, Parmesan cheese, homemade croutons and both regular and anchovy free dressing for the salad. Everyone could not eat everything but there were enough choices that everyone was able to prepare their salad with what they could eat and it was the perfect choice. I was the lucky one…no food allergies for me; I got to add it all!

Wild Planet Anchovies The salad has a couple of nuances that made it a bit unique from what I’ve done in the past. Those anchovies? Not skinny sliced fillets at all but anchovies from Wild Planet. Also known as boquerones in Spanish restaurants worldwide, these sustainably caught white anchovies are smaller and more delicate in texture than a sardine, with a clean, mild flavor that is the perfect compliment to this dressing. These anchovies were packed in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and have a very mild flavor; perfect for my salad dressing. I’m crazy about Wild Planet; their policies to fish sustainably are important but the most memorable component for me is the exquisite taste. I made this Tuna Burger last year with their Tuna Fish and it was to die for!

Grilled Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

With so many dietary restrictions to consider; I wondered if someone would have an issue with the raw egg I would typically use for Caesar Salad dressing; I’ve got a couple of recipes that call for raw egg and I’ve never had any issues but I wanted to proceed with extra caution. I decided to coddle the egg I use in my favorite recipe; a simple procedure that requires submerging an egg in boiling water for exactly one minute. The egg surface and the outermost layer of the egg white will be cooked slightly thus eliminating some of the risk carried with eating a raw egg, however, it’s important to note it does not COMPLETELY remove the possibility of contamination. If you’re concerned that this procedure isn’t enough then use a pasteurized egg or just substitute the egg with a dollop of mayonnaise the size of an egg yolk; the taste and texture will be changed slightly but it’s still a great flavor.

Grilled Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

The coup de grace for me are the homemade croutons; I could make these and never get the salad done I love them so much. You know the routine, ‘I think I’ll just have one more’ turns into ‘where the heck did the croutons go?’ very quickly! Great in this salad, this same recipe is also perfect for croutons for soups so don’t forget this come winter; the same precautions about eating them up applies!

I made this for dinner again last night…this could become a habit. A really yummy habit.

Grilled Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
When I'm juicing just one half of a lemon; I simply use a fork. Puncture the membranes with your fork and give a little twist; the juice will run out. Give a quick squeeze of the lemon when done too and there ya go!
Serves: 4 Servings
Ingredients
For the Croutons:
  • ½ to 1 tsp garlic powder ( use more or less depending on your tastt)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups French bread slices cut up into ½ inch cubes
For the Salad Dressing:
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 anchovies
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • ½ cup olive oil
For the Romaine Grilling:
  • 2 medium heads of romaine lettuce -- outer leaves removed and cut in half; do NOT remove the stem end; that keeps it held together on the grill.
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
To Prepare the Salad:
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese -- grated
Preparation
To Make the Croutons:
  1. Combine the garlic powder, melted butter, olive oil and salt in a large bowl. Mix until blended; add the bread cubes and toss until evenly coated.
  2. Spread the bread cubes onto a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until the bread is golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
For the Salad Dressing:
  1. Bring a small pot of boiling water to boil, add the egg and cook for just 60 seconds EXACTLY. Remove the egg from the water and place it in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process and cool the egg.
  2. Combine the balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper, anchovies, mustard and capers in a blender or food processor; crack the egg and add it to the other ingredients and mix well. While blending, pour the olive oil into either the blender or processor in a slow stream until thoroughly combined and thickened.
To Serve:
  1. Brush the Romaine lettuce lightly with olive oil; place on a hot grill and grill on both sides for approximately 2 minutes each side. Remove from grill to a plate and allow to cool.
  2. Pour half of the dressing into a large bowl.
  3. Cut the romaine lettuce into 1 inch pieces and add them to the bowl ; mix until the leaves are all coated.
  4. Add the Parmesan cheese and croutons, toss and serve on chilled plates.
  5. Pass the remaining dressing for individuals to add more if they choose. Or save it for yourself for later. :)


Comments

    • Creative Culinary says

      It was so good I think I ate it for dinner 3 nights in a row (or until I ran out of Romaine!). Wondering where you are in Denver Monet; we should connect for coffee sometime.

  1. says

    I buy this product, but I have to say if you are thinking Italian-style white anchovies. Which are skinnier and slicker and firmer. These fishies will seem foreign. They are closer to a (like you say) “clean” sardine than the Amalfi version. But that’s part of what makes them sustainable. They are a Pacific fish that is well maintained. GREG

    • Creative Culinary says

      I have a jar of the other kind; I should have done a comparison shoot huh? These are much fatter AND milder and for my guests, that worked. If it has been just me? I would have probably doubled up. But…like salt, you can always add more but it’s hard to take away!

    • Creative Culinary says

      I sent a reply to your email and guess what? It bounced of course; what are we gonna do bout that? :)

  2. says

    I’ve done the grilled romaine and it is fantastic – when we had our boat, for the first few years the ONLY cooking facility I had was a hotpot, toaster and a bbq so I got very, very good at cooking everything on the grill!!! I have got to try that dressing – never thought of putting capers in a caesar but “duh” it totally makes sense!!!
    What a fun get together – I lover reconnecting with people I haven’t seen in years!!!
    BTW, I love the background texture of your photo!!!

    • Creative Culinary says

      I love that for the uninitiated it sounds so weird; because they are just mind boggled when it’s SO good! I love it too; and yours. :)

    • Creative Culinary says

      They are so mild that I could have actually put more in but with all those dietary restrictions I played it safe…adjust as you see fit to your tastes.

  3. says

    I love grilled romaine! And make it into Caesar salad often. I usually use pasteurized eggs these days when I need raw egg in something — the chances of getting a bad egg are very rare, but why take chances? Coddling is a good idea too. Good recipe, and it sounds like you had wonderful company to share it with!
    John@Kitchen Riffs Most Recent Post: Chipotle Cherry Salsa

    • Creative Culinary says

      Pasteurized eggs are still hard to find; the one large store near me needs advance notice to get them in. I’ve been washing my eggs with detergent and decided to start going this route as another protection; sometimes a girl needs a Caesar salad and didn’t know it two days before!

      I need to find some and see how it affects my all time favorite; French Silk Pie. It’s worth dying for if they don’t work. :)

  4. says

    It sounds like a great evening with friends. Isn’t it nice to reconnect after a while? I just attended a college reunion and thoroughly enjoyed catching up on lost time. I haven’t grilled salad before but will try it next time the grill is fired up. Looks wonderful!
    Holly Most Recent Post: Cherry Quick Bread #TwelveLoaves June

    • Creative Culinary says

      You have to try this…it is surprisingly wonderful; most of the lettuce retains the crispness you would expect but it’s all permeated with a nice smoky flavor. SO good!

    • Creative Culinary says

      It has been nice; heck I’ve even connected with some kids I babysat for in my teens and love that they remember me so fondly so this Facebook thing has been a good thing.

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