Regardless of what kind of restaurant I’m dining in, I love to enjoy Caesar salad for my second course. I’ve sampled many varieties, but the one that has struck me the most in recent years is the Black Trumpet‘s Grilled Caesar. The Trumpet nailed the dressing with it’s creamy texture and ideal balance of cheese and lemony tang. However, they also managed to successfully execute a twist on this salad favorite without losing the classic integrity of the dish. A romaine heart is presented slightly charred with a drizzling of dressing and a side of kalamata olives, toasted pine nuts, and red pepper relish. The texture and savory notes of these additions boost the salad from a simple side to a main dish that can hold its own.
I’ve experimented with countless Caesar dressings over the past year, including recipes from Commander’s Palace, Bobby Flay, Giada DeLaurentis and Ina Garten. Ultimately, Ina’s came the closest to my desired attributes, but I needed to make few adjustments before I was satisfied. So, I fiddled around with the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe and created a dressing with just a hint of lemon and a subtler anchovy undertone than in the original recipe. The result: I finally struck Caesar salad gold with these modifications and am so excited to share them with you. This dressing will obviously work for your standard Caesar presentation, but I’m always up for a challenge and took it one step further by attempting to recreate the Trumpet’s version. I hope you enjoy the fruits of my labor and are just as pleased with this green time gem as I was.
Yields 1 1/4 cup
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
3 anchovy filets
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra light olive oil (see notes)
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Put everything except the cheese and olive oil in the food processor. Puree until smooth. With food processor running, pour the olive oil in through the feed tube. If you don’t have/use the feed tube, pour the oil very slowly. This technique emulsifies the dressing and creates the creamy consistency. Add cheese and pulse three times. Voila.
- Do NOT use extra virgin olive oil. Be sure to use mild olive oil. I’ve come to the conclusion that this error was responsible for throwing off all of the Caesar dressings I made in the past. Extra virgin olive oil overpowers the overall flavor and, while olive oil is one of the main ingredients, you don’t want it to be the dominant taste.
- Extra dressing can be kept refrigerated in a tightly covered container for up to 5 days.
Mediterranean Grilled Caesar Salad
Serves 1 (main dish) or 2 (sides)
1 Romaine Heart, cleaned and halved lengthwise
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
1/3 cup roasted red peppers, fresh or jarred
Olive oil for basting
1/4 cup Caesar dressing
Pecorino Romano cheese for garnish
Heat a skillet over a medium low flame. Add pine nuts and toss very frequently until nuts are golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes. Remove and set aside. Dice roasted red peppers into 1″ bite size squares and set aside.
Preheat grill or grill pan on high. Brush both sides of Romaine lightly with olive oil. When grill is hot, place hearts on top and cook for about 4 minutes on each side until lightly charred. Plate each Romaine half. Drizzle with dressing, a sprinkle of cheese, and top with pine nuts. Serve with olives and pepper relish.