Recently, I discovered a recipe for a grilled Caesar salad created by Vicki and Steve Caparulo, talented cooking teachers and recipe developers.
I first heard of this unique version from a friend who swooned as she described the lightly grilled wedges of romaine lettuce brushed with anchovy-scented mayonnaise dressing that she had sampled in one of the couple's cooking classes. As finishing touches, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and freshly ground black pepper were sprinkled over the warm, slightly charred greens. When I called the Caparulos to ask if they would share the recipe, they could not have been more gracious.
It became the main course of a weekend lunch menu for an out-of-town friend. Accompanied by a basket of crispy baguette slices and glasses of icy cold lemonade, it made a perfect main course for a warm summer day. The following recipe serves four but can be doubled easily.
Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services.
Vicki and Steve Caparulo's Grilled Caesar Salad
Makes 4 servings
1 medium head romaine lettuce (1 to 1 1/4 pounds, 8 to 9 inches long)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large garlic cloves
3/4 cup good-quality regular or reduced-fat (not nonfat) mayonnaise
4 canned anchovy fillets, rolled with capers
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
To prepare salad, remove and discard any outer bruised leaves from lettuce. Rinse head under lukewarm water, then shake leaves as dry as possible. Quarter lettuce lengthwise and wrap each quarter in paper towels to blot excess water. Place wrapped lettuce in plastic bags and refrigerate until ready to use. (Lettuce can be cleaned a day ahead.)
In small bowl, whisk together garlic, olive oil and salt. Set aside 15 to 30 minutes for flavors to develop. This garlic oil will be used during the grilling.
To prepare dressing, process garlic in food processor or blender, pulsing, until minced. Add mayonnaise, anchovy fillets, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire and mustard and process until smooth.
Oil grill rack and arrange about 5 inches from heat source. Use reserved garlic oil to lightly brush cut sides (including stalk and leaves) of each lettuce quarter. Grill lettuce, cut sides down, until lightly browned, 2 minutes or slightly longer depending on intensity of heat. (Leaves will be slightly cooked but still hold their shape.)
Remove from grill and arrange cut sides up on 4 dinner plates. Brush some of the dressing over and under the leaves of each quarter. Drizzle each serving decoratively with a little dressing. Place remaining dressing in small bowl. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon of the remaining Parmesan cheese and season with generous grating of pepper. Serve with knife and fork.