Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Grilled Romaine Hearts with Roasted Baby Tomatoes, Shaved Parmesan and Herbed Croutons with Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette

Here is an updated version of classic Caesar salad. The dressing is prepared with a bunch of garlic that is sweetened with aged Balsamic vinegar. Use the extra dressing to drizzle on poached fish or as a dipping sauce for crudités. Trust me, if you like Caesar – you’ll love this dressing!

For dressing:
10 whole garlic cloves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (2-ounce) tin anchovies, packed in oil, drained
Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup olive oil, plus more as listed below
Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 pints grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 (16-ounce) loaf French bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon each dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley, dried thyme
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated, about ¼ cup
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large head romaine lettuce, washed and dried
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved

To make the dressing, place the garlic cloves, mustard, Worcestershire, anchovies, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar into a blender. Pulse to emulsify. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the tomatoes onto a baking sheet with lip. Sprinkle with olive oil, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Bake until the tomatoes just begin to burst, about 10 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature.

Place the bread cubes into a large bowl. Sprinkle with the dried spices and the grated Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss and place onto a baking sheet with lip. Bake at 350 degrees until the bread cubes are golden on the outside and soft on the inside, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Cut the Romaine head into quarters. Brush the cut side with olive oil and place into the grill pan. Watch closely so the leaves do not burn. Brush the other side of the leaves with olive oil. Use tongs to turn the leaves. Both sides will have grill marks. The whole process will take only about 1 minute. Remove from the pan.

Assemble the salad by placing 1 grilled Romaine wedge onto a plate. Top with roasted tomatoes and croutons. Sprinkle the salad with just enough vinaigrette to moisten the leaves. Lay the Parmesan shavings over the top and serve with a grind of fresh pepper.

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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