Grilling romaine is such a treat! It gives a humble ingredient a much needed face lift, while letting the homemade lemon caesar vinaigrette shine. Serve this grilled romaine caesar with pumpernickel croutons and a healthy sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Add grilled chicken if you want to bulk it up, and watch this salad disappear!
Ingredients for salad and dressing
- Anchovies (don’t knock ’em, they are crucial for homemade caesar dressing!!)
- Dijon mustard
- Lemon zest and juice
- Parmesan cheese — freshly grated is best if you can get your hands on some
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Pumpernickel or other bread for homemade croutons
- Kosher salt
- Hearts of romaine
Grilled caesar salad
We’re all in agreement that a classic caesar salad is a beautiful creation, yes? Okay, good. But have you ever grilled it? I mean grilled the romaine, not just chicken or other proteins being added.
How to grill romaine
Begin by pre-heating a grill to 400F. Trim the ends off the hearts of romaine (just the end that is a little brown), then slice each in half lengthwise. Leave the root attached as it will help the romaine hold it’s shape on the grill!
Drizzle each half with a little olive oil. When the grill is hot, place romaine cut side down directly on the grates and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until lettuce is charred and beginning to wilt. For best results, serve grilled romaine the same day you cook it.
We are well on our way to grilled caesar salad perfection!
Homemade caesar dressing
This ain’t your traditional caesar dressing. It’s a vinaigrette, meaning it’s not a cream-based dressing and is therefore MUCH lighter. A win all around! (Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for a heavier, delicious creamy caesar, but for me it’s not paired with a light grilled salad).
First, grind anchovies into a paste in a mortar and pestle. You can also chop well with a sharp chef’s knife. Place ground anchovies in a mason jar, then add remaining dressing ingredients — Dijon mustard, lemon zest and juice, parmesan cheese, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. Secure a lid on top, then shake shake shake.
Et voila! Homemade lemon caesar vinaigrette! It takes about 5 minutes to make and will last in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. That’s the beauty of dressings without dairy — they last longer!
We love to add grilled chicken to help bulk this up and keep us full longer. Grilled salmon, shrimp, or steak would also be wonderful! Keep the protein simple (no bold flavors) so the homemade vinaigrette can really shine through!
*For best results, marinate chicken at least 30 minutes before cooking, but a few hours is better!
If you make this Grilled Romaine with Lemon Caesar Vinaigrette, please let me know by leaving a review below!
For more simple weeknight dinners, check out the following recipes:
Grilled romaine with pumpernickel croutons and lemon caesar vinaigrette
For the salad and dressing
- 2 anchovies about 1 tsp
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- juice from ½ large lemon about 3 Tbsp
- 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese grated
- 1 Tbsp garlic minced
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil plus 4 Tbsp, divided
- 2 cups pumpernickel bread cut into ½" cubes
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3 hearts of romaine
For the grilled chicken, optional
- 2 large chicken breasts
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- lemons for serving
For the salad and dressing
- Place anchovies in a mortar and grind with pestle until a smooth paste forms. Alternatively, you can chop the anchovies very finely with a knife. Place in a medium mason jar.
- Add Dijon, lemon zest, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, minced garlic, and ½ cup olive oil. Secure lid on, then shake until well combined. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine pumpernickel and 2 Tbsp olive oil on a large baking sheet, then toss to combine. Season with about 1 tsp kosher salt, then bake 7-9 minutes, or until crisp. Set aside.
- Heat a grill over medium-high heat (about 400 F). Trim the tiniest amount off the ends of each romaine heart, just removing the part that is brown, then slice each in half lengthwise. Drizzle 2 Tbsp olive oil on the romaine.
- When grill is hot, grill romaine cut side down for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until charred and beginning to wilt. Remove and set aside.
For grilled chicken, optional
- In a large mixing bowl or tupperware, combine olive oil, salt, oregano, garlic powder, and black pepper. Whisk to combine. Add chicken breasts and toss in marinade. Let sit for as long as you have time — 5 minutes, 30 minutes, overnight. The longer it sits, the better.
- When ready, cook over medium-high heat on a grill (about 400 F) for about ~5-8 minutes per side (depending on thickness), or until internal temperature reaches 165 F. Let rest 5 minutes, then cut into thin slices. Serve over grilled romaine with croutons and lemon wedges.
- Dressing can be made ahead and kept in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks
- Grilled romaine should be used the same day it is cooked to remain crisp. On subsequent days it will be a little soggy.
- Homemade croutons can be made from any crusty, dense bread such as pumpernickel, rye, sourdough, or any baguette.
- Anchovies should not be omitted! Give them a try before deciding you don’t like them! The flavor is totally umami.