Grilling a salad might sound counterintuitive, but it adds a whole new flavor experience. Developing a nice char on the outside of the romaine not only enhances the presentation, but it also adds a nice depth of smoky flavor. Instead of using croutons, I pan-fry capers, which add a salty, nutty crunch. Without letting anything go to waste, I also fry the capers in the reserved oil from the jarred sun-dried tomatoes, which lends a honeyed flavor to the capers. Of course, the sun-dried tomatoes bring a pop of color and sweetness to help round out the dish.
1 (8.5-oz.) jar sun-dried julienne-cut tomatoes in olive oil
2 tsp. capers, drained and rinsed
2 romaine lettuce hearts, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
Classic Caesar Dressing (recipe follows)
2 oz. (1/2 cup) freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat grill to 300°-350° (medium).
2. Drain tomatoes, reserving oil and tomatoes separately. Heat reserved oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat just until oil begins to smoke. Add capers, and fry, gently shaking skillet occasionally, 3-4 minutes or until capers are crispy and browned. Drain capers on paper towels, reserving oil. Let oil cool 15-20 minutes.
3. Brush cut sides of lettuce with cooled reserved oil. Grill lettuce, cut sides down, 2 minutes. Rotate lettuce 45°, and grill on same side 2 more minutes to create grill marks. Place lettuce on serving plates, grilled sides up.
4. Drizzle lettuce with desired amount of dressing. Sprinkle with tomatoes, fried capers, and shaved cheese; season with black pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Classic Caesar Dressing
Total time: 9 min.; makes: 1 cup
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 anchovy fillets, minced
2 large pasteurized egg yolks
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (1 oz.) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Place first 3 ingredients on a cutting board. Using the flat side of a chef’s knife, carefully smash ingredients together until mixture becomes a thick paste and is thoroughly blended. Transfer paste to a small bowl.
2. Add egg yolks, lemon juice, and vinegar to the paste, and whisk until blended. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth.
3. Whisk in cheese, and season with black pepper to taste. Transfer to a glass canning jar, and serve immediately. Cover with metal lid, and screw on band; refrigerate up to 1 week.
From A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen by Matt Moore, Oxmoor House 2015.
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