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.
I can’t remember if I had worked out on that day or maybe just felt heavy, but I decided to go against my NO SALAD rule and ordered the salad either way. 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 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 sardines weird you out, but I think the homemade version really makes a difference and tastes soooo much better. Believe me; I wouldn’t steer you wrong.
Grilled Romaine with Smoky Caesar Dressing Video
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!
Grilled Romaine Salad Ingredients:
Romaine is very hearty and holds up well when grilling. Day-old cornbread, adds a hint of sweeties, and its grainy texture crumbs well. Anchovies add a salty depth of flavor that pairs well with the smokiness of the grilled romaine.
How to grill Romaine lettuce?
Start by slicing your romaine hearts in half lengthwise; this will give you a flat surface to lay on the grill. Make sure your grates are clean and brush them with a little oil. Lightly brush or spray oil onto both sides of the romaine and season with salt & pepper.
Place the flat cut side of the lettuce onto a medium-high heat grill for about 3 minutes. Flip lettuce over and cook for about a minute or 2. You want the lettuce to get a little charred, infusing it with smokiness and leaving beautiful seared marks.
What if I don't have a grill?
If you don’t have an outdoor grill, you can do it on an indoor electric grill or your stovetop in a grill pan.
- 4 heads romaine hearts sliced lengthwise in ½
- ½ cup goat cheese crumbled
- 1 batch day-old cornbread homemade or from a box mix
- 3 tablespoons butter + more if needed
- Italian seasoning to taste
- salt & pepper to taste
- ½ cup mayo
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard I used “Grey Poupon” brand
- 4 anchovies drained
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
- ¼ teaspoon Worchestshire sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Caesar Dressing Preparation
- Combine mayo, Dijon mustard, anchovies, garlic, lemon, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and olive oil into a blender and blend until smooth.
Cornbread Croutons Preparation
- Cut leftover or day-old cornbread into cubes, any size
- Melt butter on medium heat in large sauté pan, Add in in cornbread cubes and toss lightly to coat.
- Sprinkle with salt and Italian seasoning. Flip once and continue to cook until you see that both sides are toasted and brown.
Grilled Romaine Preparation
- Preheat the grill
- 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.
- Layer goat cheese, cornbread croutons and smoky Cesar dressing on top of grilled romaine and serve.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
**The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products I use and love. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.