Can you grill a leaf?
Well, that depends on the leaf. Most will wilt or burn within moments.
But a whole head of leaves, such as romaine? Absolutely.
Add a homemade mustard-anchovy dressing, with plenty of umami depth of flavor, and you’ve got a grilled – but juicy – Caesar salad in the making, with enough smoke to make you notice.
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Best of all, it’s a quick option for mealtime and a definite crowd-pleaser for those inevitable backyard summer gatherings.
Start out by making the vinaigrette, going old-school (with a fork) or all-tech (blender or food processor) to whisk together the ingredients. For the best flavor, stick with anchovies from a can rather than those in a paste from a tube. The real thing offers more flavor and complexity, which is what you want with this salad.
Slice the head of romaine into several pieces lengthwise. This gives you more surface in contact with the grill. Brush a little olive oil over the exterior and set the leaves atop your grill, already on medium heat.
But don’t turn your back on the romaine. In 20 to 30 seconds, it will be ready to flip over to the other side for a similar dose of heat and grill marks.
Then brush the wedges of greens with the vinaigrette itself, along with sprinkles of Parmesan cheese. Another dose of heat from a covered grill and your
Caesar salad is ready.
Grilled Romaine Salad With Anchovy-Mustard Vinaigrette
Note: For a color contrast, substitute a large head of radicchio for one of the romaine. For even more “grilled” intensity, use a smoked salt to finish the dish. From “Williams-Sonoma Grill School,” by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim (Weldon Owen, publisher).
1 large garlic clove, smashed, peeled and minced
6 anchovy fillets, minced
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grate, divided
Juice of 1 lemon
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 heads romaine lettuce, loose leaves removed and each head cut lengthwise into halves or quarters (see Note)
1 ounce ( 1/4 to 1/3 cup) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon flake sea salt, such as Maldon (see Note)
Heat grill to medium indirect heat (300 to 350 degrees).
In salad bowl (or do this in blender or food processor), using back of fork, mash together garlic and anchovy fillets into a paste. Whisk in mustard and egg yolk and then whisk in 1/2 cup oil a little at a time until thick sauce forms. Stir in lemon juice and season with fine sea salt and pepper.
Brush grill grate with oil. Coat romaine with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Put romaine directly on grate over the fire and grill, turning once, just until grill-marked, about 20 seconds per side. Using tongs, remove romaine from heat and paint with half of the vinaigrette, getting the dressing down in between the leaves. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Return romaine to the grill, in a spot with indirect heat and cook, covered, until cheese just starts to melt and the ends of the romaine leaves wilt, about 2 minutes.
Transfer romaine to platter. Dress with remaining vinaigrette, a scattering of remaining cheese, and a sprinkle of flake salt.
Nutrition information per serving: 400 calories, 38 g fat, 970 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrates, 6 g saturated fat, 3 g total sugars, 8 g protein, 55 mg cholesterol, 6 g dietary fiber