1 to 2 finely chopped or minced garlic cloves with inner green germ removed
1 anchovy fillet, mashed*
Pinch of coarse salt
Juice of one lemon**
3 drops Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup low-fat or light mayonnaise
2 to 3 tablespoons water (to achieve desired thickness)
2 to 3 heads Romaine lettuce, hearts and tender leaves only
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup croutons
2 tablespoons (1/4 cup) freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano), divided
* Use only good-quality Spanish or Portuguese anchovies in your dressing. Anchovy paste may be substituted (approximately two inches squeezed from the tube will provide the equivalent taste of one anchovy fillet).
** Fresh lemon juice is essential. Some chefs squeeze the lemon through a cheesecloth to ensure that only the juice ends up in the salad. If you are careful to keep the lemon seeds out of the salad, a simple squeeze will do. Sometimes I add more lemon juice. Taste to adjust.
Prepare the Caesar Salad Dressing:
In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy, and salt until blended. Whisk in the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, and water. When the dressing is well combined and to the desired thickness you wish, whisk in 2 tablespoons freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.
Store in the refrigerator and let come to room temperature before serving.
Grilling the Romaine Lettuce:
Preheat grill or smoker to medium heat.
Wash, drain, pat dry, and discard the coarse outer Romaine leaves.
Gently toss the heads of Romaine lettuce in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place the prepared Romaine lettuce on the heated grill and grill for 2 minutes on each side until slightly wilted and grill marks appear. Ends of lettuce will be a little crispy.
Variation Idea: Romaine hearts can then be served whole for presentation with dressing, Parmesan cheese, and croutons sprinkled on top. Leave bottom stem-knob on the Romaine lettuce if cutting into halves or quarters. Another optional way to grill Romaine, is to cut lettuce heads in half lengthwise, and brush cut sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
How to assemble Caesar Salad:
When ready to use, place grilled Romaine leaves onto cutting board and chop into bite-size pieces.
In a large wooden salad bowl, add 1/3 of the prepared Caesar Salad Dressing and toss with the croutons until well coated. Add the Romaine lettuce pieces and toss until coated. Taste and add more dressing as needed a little at a time. Sprinkle the top with the freshly-grated Parmesan Cheese.
Do not OVERDRESS your salad - Too much salad dressing will weight down the salad ingredients and mask their flavors. The dressing's role is to highlight not to overpower the salad ingredients. A general rule is 1/4 cup of dressing for 6 cups of greens. As soon as your salad is mixed, taste a leaf to see if there is sufficient dressing. If not, drizzle some more over the salad, a tablespoon at a time; toss and taste again.
How to serve Grilled Caesar Salad:
Serve salad warm and garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese and coarsely-ground black pepper.
Makes 2 to 4 servings (depending on serving sizes).