Are those sighs of relief I’m hearing from some of you who are happy to see a non-sourdough recipe for a change? There may be a few more on the horizon–especially my how-to for establishing my now six-week old rye starter–but it’s time to switch things up a little.
Besides the weekly bread I’ve been baking, salads are also a staple around here. While I serve them almost daily during winter they usually play second fiddle to the heartier main course. Now that spring is here they are clamoring to take center stage again at the dinner table. For us, this means springtime or summertime salads often become one-dish meals with the addition of a starch or protein component. There are two recipes in particular that I’ve been meaning to share here but I’ll open up my salad series with a delightful recipe I found for this month’s Blogger C.L.U.E. society theme.
The object of being part of the Blogger C.L.U.E. Society is to learn from and expand our cooking horizons by preparing a recipe from the bloggers we are assigned to each month. This month’s theme was spring vegetables and being assigned to Debra’s blog, Eliot’s Eats, was like hitting the jackpot. Eliot’s Eats began out of Debra’s and her husband’s desire to eat local and healthier. They started gardening and even built a greenhouse (something I’ve wanted to have for a long time) but their blog has also evolved over the years to include more than just food but also highlights of their travels and adventures. I could relate to this since I’ve shared so much of our adventures here, too, but what brought the biggest smile to my face as I leafed through Debra’s blog were pictures of her cat/blog mascot, Eliot. Her Eliot looks a lot like my Pilot and like Debra, I also never thought I’d ever call myself a cat-person until I fell in love with one particular kitty 13 years ago. Quickly feeling a kinship with Debra and her blog, I got pleasantly lost in all her tempting recipes–Spaghetti Carbonara, Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta with Broccoli and Bacon, Dark Chocolate Blackberry Jam Cookies, just to name a few.
But I had salad on my mind and as soon as I came across her Grilled Caesar Salad that she enjoyed from a farmer’s market dinner cooking class she attended, I knew it would be this month’s recipe. Firstly, Caesar salads are very popular around here and secondly, I’ve been meaning to try this version with grilled romaine lettuce for quite some time. I’d had it in restaurants and have grilled Belgian endives before so I was excited for Debra’s recipe.
With the blustery conditions and rain over the last 24 hours, my taste buds immediately harkened back to soul-warming fare but I didn’t want anything too heavy. I couldn’t think of a better way of satisfying this craving than with a big bowl of homemade artichoke soup and a double portion of Debra’s Caesar salad. Grilling the lettuce took the chill out of what would normally have been a cold plate of greens. This step also added a pleasant smokey element to the salad and was perfect for the wet weather we had today.
The main adjustments I made: I scaled down the amount of Worcestershire sauce in Debra’s recipe from Tavern on Brady and replaced the egg in the dressing with Vegenaise for my husband but I did add it back in hard-boiled form for myself as a topping for the salad. The verdict? This is a classic Caesar salad recipe, dressed up and fit for company, but I was very happy to have it all to myself today.
Scroll down below for more spring vegetable recipes from my friends.
Caesar Salad with Grilled Romaine
- 2 cloves garlic crushed with a garlic press
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce read instructions below before adding
- 6-8 anchovy fillets mashed (or roughly 2 tablespoons anchovy paste)
- 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice roughly 1 - 1 1/2 lemons
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise I use Vegenaise
- 2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese plus more for topping the salad
- 1 head romaine lettuce outer leaves removed and sliced in half (See Note)
- 1 hard boiled egg for serving optional
- croutons optional
- salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the dressing: In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovies, mayo, mustard, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. I would recommend adding the Worcestershire sparingly as a little goes a long way. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and add as you taste. I like a lighter hand on Worcestershire so less than one teaspoon is ideal. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir well. Taste again. If you are satisfied with the balance of flavors (I go heavy on lemons and anchovies), season with salt and pepper at this time if you feel it needs seasoning. I usually add a pinch or two of salt and some black pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Set aside while you prepare the lettuce.
Prepare the lettuce: Heat a grill pan (or your outdoor grill) until very hot. While you wait, brush the lettuce with just a little olive oil on both sides. When the grill pan is ready, Cook the lettuce halves cut side down first then flip over to cook the outer side. Press the lettuce down to get more pronounced grill marks. Each side should take no more than 30-40 seconds.
Transfer the grilled lettuce halves to a plate and drizzle with the dressing. Garnish with the hard boiled egg, croutons and more Parmesan cheese if desired.
It is important to have dry lettuce leaves. Mine had quite a bit of moisture on them so my grill marks weren't as pronounced as I would have liked. The moisture also steams the leaves a little when they're not completely dry.
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