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Grilled Romaine with Smoky Caesar Dressing – Crispy grilled romaine drizzled with a homemade smoky Caesar dressing totally elevates the traditional Caesar salad. Top with crumbled goat cheese and cornbread croutons and you have an instant winner.

Would you hate me if I told you that I really, really don’t like Caesar salads? At least that was the case until not too long ago. I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences where you order a meal at a restaurant that comes with a free salad. That salad always happens to be a Caesar salad with that egregiously thick Caesar dressing, deathly limp iceberg lettuce, and dry AF croutons. Those croutons make me want to cuss every time.

I avoid that salad at all costs but something came over me the other day. While out dining I ordered the Caesar salad as an entrée [GASP]. I must have been beside myself because to me, that is the unthinkable. I am a firm believer in NOT ordering salads at restaurants; I like to reserve my dollars for something that will stick to my stomach. Which is probably why I need to work out every damn day but that is another story we will discuss at a later date.

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I can’t remember if I had worked out on that day or maybe just felt heavy but either way I decided to go against my NO SALAD rule and ordered the salad. To my surprise it was beyond delicious and I left inspired partly because of the dressing, which was Caesar with a hint of smoke in it. So it got me to thinking; this would make an amazing Labor Day salad if it were grilled. And not more than a week later I was plotting out the recipe.

The process of making my version, “Grilled Romaine with Smoky Caesar Dressing” is quite easy which you can see in the video above. I love salads with grilled vegetables because the grill imparts so much flavor. You can buy your own Caesar dressing if you are weirded out by sardines but I think the homemade version really makes a difference and tastes soooo much better. Believe me I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

Hopefully you love grilled romaine as much as I do because I charred the hell out of mine. Just look at it – so good!

I also had fun making my own croutons with leftover cornbread. I cheated a bit by doing them on the stovetop (saved me like 10 minutes). If you have some time you can always bake them in a sheet pan until brown like traditional croutons. – totally your choice

Finally you just layer everything on top of the grilled romaine. Oh man I forgot to mention that I used crumbled goat cheese because I’m addicted to it. So that’s going on top along with the smoky Caesar dressing and cornbread croutons. YUM! Take this salad to your Labor day party or keep it to yourself (I wouldn’t be mad if you added a nice grilled salmon fillet on top to make dinner proper) either way you win!

Do you plan to make this recipe? Be sure to tag @meikoandthedish on Instagram and hashtag it #meikoandthedish.

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Grilled Romaine with Smoky Caesar Dressing

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 heads romaine hearts, sliced lengthwise in 1/2
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • Cornbread Croutons
  • 1 batch day-old cornbread (homemade or from a box mix)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter (+ more if needed)
  • Caesar Dressing
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I used “Grey Poupon” brand)
  • 4 anchovies, drained
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worchestshire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

    Caesar Dressing Preparation
  1. Combine mayo, Dijon mustard, anchovies, garlic, lemon, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and olive oil into a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Cornbread Croutons Preparation
  3. Cut leftover or day-old cornbread into cubes, any size
  4. Melt butter on medium heat in large sauté pan, Add in in cornbread cubes and toss lightly to coat.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and Italian seasoning. Flip once and continue to cook until you see that both sides are toasted and brown.
  6. Grilled Romaine Preparation
  7. Preheat the grill
  8. Lightly and evenly coat romaine heads with cooking spray. Place the romaine cut-side down on the grill until grill marks appear, approximately 2 minutes. Repeat on opposite side. Remove romaine from the grill and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Salad Assembly
  10. Layer goat cheese, cornbread croutons and smoky Cesar dressing on top of grilled romaine and serve.
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