A simple and delicious Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad elevated with some smoky crispy pancetta (or bacon), grilled lemon, and grilled baguette slices to sub for croutons.
This grilled romaine Caesar salad is the perfect side dish for your grilled meats or backyard BBQ and you’re gonna love it!
I’m a huge fan of grilled salads. It’s one of the rare ways I can get that hubby of mine to indulge in salad. Otherwise he acts like I’m punishing him by serving him greens. But not with this salad! So I wasn’t too surprised when he suggested we make this dish as the second course of a 4-course winemaker dinner we at Troon Winery recently for one of our Ember and Vine catering events. You’re never going to guess what wine we paired it with (see below).
This grilled salad is quite simple, but looks impressive and complicated, so it’s definitely one that will wow your guests.
You can serve the greens cold or hot, it really doesn’t matter.
How to Make Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad
To start you want to grill your lemons. The grilled lemon juice is going into your Caesar dressing, so it’s best to do that first. I like to do the lemons and bread (for your “croutons”) together, since the bread won’t be served hot (though you can if you want to).
Cut the lemons in half and slice your baguette and coat the baguette lightly with olive oil.
Place those on the grill for a couple minutes per side. Stay close, these grill fast.
When they’re done you can toss the romaine on.
How to Grill Romaine Lettuce
- Start by rinsing and drying your romaine lettuce (if you didn’t buy them pre-rinsed). Trim the stems then slice down the middle, lengthwise.
- Place directly on the hot grill. No need to add oil, otherwise this could cause flare ups in your grill. Grill on direct heat only a couple minutes per side. That’s all.
Next prep your creamy dressing (super simple, see below), then drizzle over those gorgeous grilled romaine hearts.
What to Add to Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad
- Well for starters, crispy bacon or pancetta is a no brainer! So good.
- You’ve gotta sprinkle on some shaved or grated Parmesan of course.
- Grilled chicken is a fantastic protein.
- Grilled salmon works wonders too.
- You can also use tomatoes & basil, like our Grilled Romaine Lettuce with Tomatoes & Basil.
- The options are endless.
We love this as a side dish or starter, or as a full meal if you add one of those recommended proteins.
Wine Pairing for Caesar Salad
The key characteristics in the dish are the lightly charred notes on the romaine, as well as the bright acidity in the dressing balanced with the creamy texture. Don’t get all freaked out about the anchovies, as there are only 2 in this dressing, and they provide more of a mildly salty and savory note rather than anything fishy. Believe me!
For this particular event we paired this dish with a very unlikely candidate. A Riesling. But not any Riesling. This was paired with Troon’s 2017 Whole Grape Ferment Riesling, a wine that’s more like an orange wine than any Riesling you may be familiar with. It’s fermented with its skins on, giving it more body and texture than most traditional white wines. It’s bone dry and has a very savory note to it with great acidity, which we thought would make for a very unique pairing with this salad. And it was!
Now, knowing this wine isn’t highly distributed here’s a few other, more commonly found pairing ideas:
- For the wine geek: find another orange wine (or similar style). It’s a pretty rad pairing. Give it a shot!
- For the Chardonnay lover: look for a lightly oaked chardonnay or one in stainless steel. Chablis would be deeeelicious. Just don’t go for something too heavily oaked.
- For branching out: Gavi, or other northern Italian white would work too. They tend to have bright acidity and lemon notes that would be a great match.
Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad Recipe
Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad
- 2 hearts of romaine, sliced in half lengthwise
- 2 lemons, cut in half
- ½ baguette, (we use gluten free) sliced on a bias in ¼ inch slices
- extra virgin olive oil
For the Grilled Lemon Caesar Dressing:
- 2 anchovies
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup grilled lemon juice (approx 1 large lemon)
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Parmesan Cheese
- Crispy pancetta or bacon
- Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Salmon
- Preheat grill for indirect cooking. (As you cook, you want to have a cool side, in case you need to move the greens or bread over if they start cooking too quickly)
- Drizzle bread with olive oil (a light coating).
- Place the romaine hearts, lemons, and baguette slices on the grill on direct heat and cook approximately 2 minutes per side, flipping often. Stay close, these will all cook at slightly different times. Remove when the bread has a nice toast, the lemons have darkened and have a nice char (see pictures), and the romaine has a nice char (but not burnt).
- Remove from grill. Serve with the Grilled Lemon Caesar Dressing, parmesan cheese, and optional proteins (we vote for crispy bacon or grilled chicken).
To make the Dressing:
- Place the anchovies, garlic, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese in the food processor and grind until they turn into a paste. Then add the wet ingredients (the grilled lemon juice, egg yolks, Dijon mustard, and olive oil). Blend on low until it emulsifies. This will take at least a minute, on low.
- Serving size: serve a half of a romaine wedge per person.
- The dressing yields 1 cup.
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