This post wraps up my three post series on a recent dinner party. As many of you will have already surmised from the post title this meal did not culminate in some amazing confectionary creation – rather, in the spirt of early summer cooking, and in an effort to keep the house cool and the oven off, this meal ended in a trip to the freezer for some cool and refreshing store bought popsicles. This beautiful thing about this dish is that it takes advantage of the sweetness of peak season lettuces and the heat from an already lit grill to create a sumptuous twist on a classic caesar salad that is simultaneously fit for a fancy feast and simple to prepare.
If you are looking to follow my “path to party time success,” you can make this dressing several hours ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until approximately 30 mins before dinner time when the dressing should be removed to allow it time to warm a bit before serving. I use anchovy fillets for this recipe but feel free to replace the fuzzy fish with a TSP or so of anchovy paste. The recipe calls for parmesan in two formats – you will need two to three TBSP of freshly grated cheese in the dressing itself as well as a healthy dose of broadly cut shavings to sprinkle on top of the salad just before serving.
I generally make the shavings ahead of time as well, I recommend using a flat vegetable peeler (the type you would use to peel potatoes – this is sometimes called a speed peeler) to shave wide strips of nutty parmesan from the block. You can place these in a small bowl In the fridge until you need them (keep these guys cool as the thin strips will melt slightly and stick together in a big blob if left in the heat.) You will see that the recipe calls for a coddled egg yolk, this may sound fancy but it is a very simple procedure. Simply bring a small pot of water to a boil, plop your egg in, turn the heat down to a slow boil and cook for 60 to 90 seconds before removing with a slotted spoon. Once the egg has cooled slightly carefully separate the yolk from the white (you can discard the white) and place the yolk in a bowl until needed.
The lettuces themselves should be grilled over fairly high heat. I generally select romaine hearts for this salad and cut them into quarters, leaving the bottoms in tact, so that they hold together well throughout the grilling process. As you brush the lettuces with olive oil and salt and pepper before grilling be careful not to go overboard with salt when making the dressing. While we’re taking about the dressing I think it’s important to note that this one has a tendency to come out on the thick side and packs a punch of strongly flavored ingredients – I like to serve the salad at least semi-dressed but it’s a good idea to go easy when drizzling the dressing over the lettuces. I generally serve the leftover dressing on the side along with some extra shavings of parmesan.
Grilled Caesar Salad
1 Large Egg Coddled – Yolk Separated (Discard White)
1 TSP Worcestershire
3 TBSP Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Clove of Garlic
3 High Quality Anchovies
1 TSP Dijon Mustard
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Parmesan, Grated
2 Medium Heads of Romaine Cut In Quarters Lengthwise, Base Intact
About 20 Large Shavings of Parmesan for Topping
Salt and Pepper
Start by coddling your egg in boiling water for 60-90 seconds. Separate out the yolk from the white, discarding the white, and set the yolk aside.
Combine garlic, Worcestershire, lemon juice, anchovy and dijon in a small food processor and blend until smooth. Toss in parmesan and puree briefly. Add oil in a slow stream until emulsified. Add egg to mixture and pulse to combine, puree until smooth and add a good whack of freshly cracked pepper. Taste dressing for balance and adjust as needed.
Lightly brush cut sides of romaine with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and grill over high heat until lightly singed (about 45-60 seconds per side.)
Arrange romaine on a serving platter, drizzle with a bit of caesar salad dressing and sprinkle parmesan shavings on top. Serve with extra dressing and shavings on the side.