Sunday, January 11, 2015

Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad

How are your New Year's resolutions coming along? I resolved to do two things: read more and eat more salad. I've just never been a salad person, for some reason. Caesar Salad is about the only kind I really enjoyed growing up. It's the simplicity of it, I guess. Not a lot of bells and whistles. Caesar dressing is somehow more decadent than the others, so it had that going for it. The abundance of croutons didn't hurt, either.

This is a little more in line with the traditional Caesar than my other salad, which has a lot more going on. It's also much simpler to make. You can prepare the dressing and the croutons well in advance for a really quick dinner, but even if you do it all on the same night, it doesn't take long at all. The result is pretty and delicious. You can serve it as a meal unto itself (as it's pictured above) or do one half as a first course.

For the salad:
2 hearts of romaine lettuce
1 package vegan chicken 
1/2 cup chopped green olives
1 round loaf sourdough bread
2 tbsp Earth Balance, melted
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 green onions, chopped
Olive oil for brushing

For the salad dressing:
1 1/2 cup vegan mayo (Vegenaise or Just Mayo are great for this)
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup chopped green olives
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white miso
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp tamari
salt and pepper to taste, but only after blending

Make the dressing: Put all the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Add pepper to taste and salt if it needs it (the olives will have added a salty flavor already). Pour it into a bowl or container and refrigerate until needed.

Make the croutons: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pull the bread apart into small chunks. If you're more organized than me, you can chop the into perfect little cubes. I'm more into rustic croutons, though. Put them into a large bowl and pour the melted Earth Balance and garlic powder over them. Toss well to combine.

Pour the bread out onto a sheet pan lined with foil. Spread them out into a single layer and bake them in the oven, stirring occasionally, until they're nicely browned (about 15 minutes).

Make the salad: Heat up a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Starting from the stem, slice each romaine heart down the middle lengthwise. Brush the cut side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill them cut-side down until they're nicely charred, about 5-7 minutes. Work in batches, if you need to.


If you're using the vegan chicken, chop it into strips and throw it into the hot grill pan or saute it in a skillet until browned.

To assemble, put the romaine halves on a plate grilled-side up and top with the chicken, croutons, olives and dressing. Crack a little more pepper on top and serve.

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