Sharon flew home for Labor Day weekend, so I planned a homecoming meal with all of her favorites. I knew it wouldn’t be a Sharon Anderson Damelio dinner without Caesar salad, a dish that ranks high on her Top Ten list.
I planned to make it the way I always had—whole hearts of Romaine leaves tossed with potent lemon dressing, chewy, crisp croutons, and really good Parm.
But shopping at Costco, I spotted their new little baby hearts of Romaine, and these adorable little chubby heads of lettuce inspired my new Grilled Caesar. It still has the great dressing and good cheese, but the grilled baby hearts and garlicky toast replace individual leaves and little croutons for a stunning presentation.
The thing Sharon loves about it: she can still eat it with her fingers!
Use a microplane, if you’ve got one, for grating the cheese that gets stirred into the dressing. Switch to a coarse grater or even a vegetable peeler for the cheese that’s sprinkled over the finished salad.
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 medium garlic cloves, minced to paste, divided
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and ground black pepper
9 tablespoons pure olive oil, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup finely grated, 1/4 cup coarsely grated or shaved
3 baby romaine hearts, halved
12 slices French bread, cut on the diagonal
Whisk lemon juice, mayonnaise, 1 garlic clove, Worcestershire, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in 5 tablespoons oil to make a creamy dressing, stir in finely grated Parmesan and set aside.
Heat gas grill igniting all burners on high for at least 10 minutes or build a hot charcoal fire.
Meanwhile, mix remaining 2 garlic cloves with remaining 1/4 cup of oil; lightly brush cut sides of Romaine hearts and both sides of bread slices with oil. Place Romaine hearts, cut sides down, and bread on hot rack; leaving lid up grill, turning bread slices once and leaving Romaine in place until impressive grill marks form, about 5 minutes.
Place a couple of bread slices on each serving plate; top with a Romaine heart, drizzle with dressing, sprinkle with coarsely grated or shaved Parmesan and serve.