Any vegetable stands to be improved upon with the addition of a few grill marks.
Even though I’ve always felt that way, I tend to keep the same veggie tracks on repeat when it comes to my summertime grilling adventures. Zucchini and eggplant are my go-to favorites, and while they never cease to please, sometimes I feel like mixing it up a bit.
Every time I ran across accounts of grilled lettuce, however, I felt immediate disapproval and the need to protest such a ludicrous act. Who would do that to delicate little lettuce?? Expose its frail, sensitive leaves to the unforgiving heat of the barbecue.
But then I did it–because I’m wild and adventurous in that way–and I surprised even myself with the speed and enthusiasm with which I jumped camps.
I now officially hold a pro-grill stance on all leafy greens. And I’ll stand steadfast in that conviction, despite its controversial nature.
I combined my grilled-lettuce initiation with another newfound obsession: homemade Caesar dressing.
While I always avoided this classic during my fat-fearing formative years, I have realize that I needn’t fear all-that-is-creamy. I’ve come to embrace it rather, as long as the ingredients are well sourced and pronounceable.
When made at home, Caesar salad dressing is actually incredibly nutrient dense. Egg yolks (from healthy, happy egg-layers) are full of critical vitamins and essential fatty acids. Their nutrient profile and sunny, glowing complexion will be most robust from pasture raised eggs like these guys.
And anchovies? If you’re not cooking with them, you need to be. They are salty, fatty acid-rich flavor bombs that will elevate your home cooking like nothing else. Add in some raw garlic, lemon juice, and good quality olive oil and your body will be as happy as your taste buds.
But the trick to this dressing is in the whisking.
Don’t slack on the whisking. You gotta get some speed going to emulsify all those good ingredients and come out with a thick, creamy dressing.
Finish it off with a happy sprinkling of grated Parmesan.
You can make a bigger batch of the dressing and keep it on hand for drizzling the rest of the week, but you definitely shouldn’t leave it out of your grilled romaine and shrimp salad equation.
When you let the lettuce hang out for a while over a hot grill, it takes on this really amazing savory quality that is unexpected from lettuce, but in the why-haven’t-I-tried-this-before kind of way.
Combined with some of the familiar ingredients of a traditional Caesar salad, it adds a delicious summertime twist to a beloved classic.
- 2 Romaine hearts
- 1 lb wild caught shrimp, peeled and deveined
- cherry tomatoes
- 2 lemons
- salt and pepper
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 egg yolks
- juice of one lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp must
- 1 tbs grated parmesan or Pecorino Romano
- salt and pepper to taste
- Mince anchovy fillets and garlic cloves. Add a pinch of salt and using the side of your knife, scrape the mixture into a paste. Add paste to a mixing bowl along with lemon juice, mustard, and egg yolk. Add oil, just a few drops at a time, while whisking vigorously. Continue to slowly add oil into bowl while whisking. Whisk vigorously until mixture emulsifies. Add grated cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Reserve.
- Heat a grill to medium high heat. Cut the Romaine hearts in half lengthwise, keeping the ends on. Cut lemons in half. Brush the cut surface of the lettuce and lemon halves with olive oil and place face down on grill for 3-4 minutes.
- Toss shrimp with olive oil and salt and pepper and grill for about 2 minutes per side.
- Plate Romaine hearts and serve with sliced tomatoes, shrimp, grilled lemons and Caesar dressing
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.