I really really love garlic. If it made sense, I would put it in every recipe. It is for this reason that I crave this creamy, vegan Caesar dressing, which I pour over another of my many cravings — Romaine.
I enjoy the crisp, slight sweetness of fresh Romaine. This sweetness is intensified when the entire Romaine heart is grilled, a method I’d never considered until I tried it at a local restaurant here in Winston. Although most restaurants tend to serve their grilled Romaine leaves charred (acrylamides! eep!), I prefer to grill mine just until they show golden grill marks.
Now I’m all about practicality, so don’t think I expect you to fire up the grill just to make this salad. If you’re already planning on grilling (vegetables, of course!) and want to prepare a starter salad, just throw a couple of Romaine hearts on the grill for one to two minutes, and BAM — your guests are impressed.
Another option is to use what you have in the kitchen, whether it’s a George Foreman grill, grill plates, or what I used, a panini press. And since I didn’t spray any oil on the Romaine hearts, the “grill” didn’t get dirty. Convenient!
For Christmas I received Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows cookbook, which includes a recipe for a vegan Caesar dressing. I think it’s just as good (if not better) than the non-vegan version, and I love the idea of adding roasted garlic. I tweaked Liddon’s recipe just a tad, so my version of her recipe is below. You should have some left over after making these salads, so you can keep it in your fridge up to four days.
Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad
- 2 Romaine hearts, split in half lengthwise
- Vegan Caesar dressing (see below)
- Handful of hemp seeds (or raw sunflower seeds)
- Garnish options: cracked black pepper, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, red onion, etc.
Vegan Caesar Dressing (Adapted from Oh She Glows)
- 1/2 cup almond slivers, soaked at least 45 min in warm water, drained
- 1 whole head of garlic, for roasting
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 t. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 t. fine-grain sea salt
- 1/4 t. dry mustard
- 1/4-1/2 t. black pepper
- Preheat oven (toaster oven, if you have one) to 425°F. Cut off the top of your garlic head to expose the tops of the cloves. Wrap head in foil and roast for 35-40 minutes, until cloves are golden. Let cool about 10 minutes.
- Squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins into a blender. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Add water gradually to reach desired consistency.
- Heat grill/panini press to a medium temperature (between 375 and 400°F), and place the Romaine halves cut side down and grill for about 2 minutes, or until you see golden grill marks (see photo).
- Plate your Romaine halves and drizzle with Caesar dressing. Sprinkle with hemp seeds and garnish with cracked black pepper, tomatoes, or whatever else you like. Serve!
I prefer this salad as a starter or side salad, but it could also be a meal if you add chickpeas, quinoa, or some other form of protein.