You know what I absolutely hate? When you get a sandwich, and the lettuce is so old and wilted inside that it is a string of dark green mush. It’s a huge turn-off! This often happens when sandwich shops pre-make their sandwiches, and then they grill them on a panini press, and include the lettuce while grilling. It’s the worst, and it should be outlawed.
Weirdly, I love a good grilled caesar salad. I know, I know, it sounds weird, especially coming from someone with such an aversion to warm lettuce. But there’s something about this that’s different and wonderful.
Grilled Caesar Salad is exactly what it sounds like; it is a salad you do on the BBQ. To be fair, it doesn’t spend much time on the BBQ–you mostly just kiss it with the grill–but it does stay there long enough to get some nice grill marks, and to give the lettuce a sweeter flavour and a softer texture. The inside of the romaine remains cold and crunchy, so it gives the whole thing a very different textural feel than regular caesar.
Just try it already!
Grilled Caesar Salad
2 heads romaine lettuce
6 strips bacon, cut into 1″ pieces, fried crispy and drained on paper towels
1/4 cup parmesan, grated or shaved (or more to taste)
Without separating the leaves, wash the lettuce as well as you can, and then allow to drain. Cut the lettuces in half, length-wise, making sure to go mid-way through the core.
Brush the cut side of the lettuce with olive oil. Heat the grill to 350-400 degrees.
Place the lettuce, cut-side down, on the open grill for about 2-3 minutes. With tongs, flip over so that the other side is on the grill for a few minutes as well. You’re looking for some nice grill marks, and little wilting.
When the lettuce is done, place it, cut-side up, on a large platter. Drizzle over the dressing, then top with croutons, bacon bits, and shaved cheese.
To serve: allow people to cut their own chunk, or cut the lettuce into 3-4″ pieces yourself before serving.
While hanging out on the Sunshine Coast this week, I have been experimenting with the barbecue. It’s rare for me to get the opportunity to play with a BBQ, so I’ve been taking advantage, and trying out all kinds of things.
One thing I wanted to try was smoking on the BBQ. Turns out, turning your BBQ into a smoker is not that difficult to do. I’ll graduate to smoking other things (like meat) in a bit, but I wanted my first project to be a simple one: I wanted to smoke some salt.
Now, you might be wondering, what the what?? Smoked salt?? Why? For what??
In case you haven’t noticed, flavoured salts are super popular right now. My fave is Amola, a local line available at Edible Canada, but there are tons of other options out there, as well.
Smoked salt is a great thing to have on hand. It finishes your dishes with a smokiness. You can use it pretty much anywhere you’d use a regular finishing salt. By “finishing salt,” I mean any time you’d taste your food, and decide it needs a little salt to finish it off. I would never use this kind of salt to say, salt a pot of pasta water, or in baking.
If you’re a vegetarian, one thing you may miss is that nice, smoky flavour of meat that’s been seared at high heat. This salt can help to add that kind of flavour, without the meat.
It takes a little time, but it’s quite simple to do.
Soak the wood chips for a short time—about 15 minutes, and drain well. Place them in one of the pie pans, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. With a paring knife, poke holes in the top of the foil to let the smoke out.
Place the pie pan on the bottom rack of your BBQ, in the back, and turn on the heat. Close the lid. You want it to get up to about 400 degrees. Within about 15 minutes, you should start to see wisps of smoke curling up out of the holes in the foil.
Place the salt in a thin layer on the second pie plate, and place it on the rack above the wood smoke. Close the lid. Allow to smoke for at least 15 minutes, though you may want to do it longer if you want a deeper smoke flavour. The salt will also take on a brownish colour.