The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

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Grilled Caesar Salad | the year in food

Years ago, someone anonymously posted a funny, slightly inappropriate comment on my blog, jokingly asking what one might do with wilted lettuce, among other things. I deleted the comment (which I kinda regret), and while wilted lettuce and grilled lettuce aren’t really the same thing, I’ve always associated them, perhaps because grilling lettuce wilts it? Anyhow, anonymous commenter, here’s what you can do with wilted lettuce. You can put it on a grill and make it into the most amazing Caesar Salad ever. Seriously.

Grilled Caesar Salad | the year in food

Summer’s almost upon us. As in years past, I’m making a to-do list of very important summer activities: lots of stargazing, campfires, hikes, tents, rivers, swimming holes, watermelon, popsicles, road trips, warm evenings, cold drinks, etc. On top of those important activities, I’ll also be meandering up and down the west coast doing this book tour thing. (!!!) I’m feeling pretty darn enthused about all of this: about summer, about having a real, tangible cookbook out in the world, about celebrating all of this with friends in a bunch of my favorite cities, about long road trips and lots of good music and podcasts, about the bigness of it all. When life feels big and wacky and crazy like this, I tend to listen to a lot of really cheesy music. Katy Perry’s on heavy repeat right now. Don’t judge. She’s perfect in her larger-than-life musical proportions, uninhibited earnestness and righteous lady power.

Grilled Caesar Salad | the year in food

I’m not often one for giveaways, but I grew up with Sunset magazine. It used to be my mother’s magazine, and now it’s my magazine. How did that happen? They’ve just released The Great Outdoors Cookbook, and it captures everything I love about summer eating. I have one copy of that book for one of you fine folks! Since this is a giveaway, here’s what I’d love to hear from you: those of you anywhere along the great west coast corridor that is I-5, share your favorite swimming hole, hike, local farm, or any awesome outdoor place to get your summer on. OR, share your biggest, cheesiest, most wonderful summer anthem with me. Perhaps it’ll make its way onto a summer road trip playlist as I meander up and down I-5 this summer. I can’t wait!

Grilled Caesar Salad | the year in food

adapted from The Great Outdoors Cookbook
Serves 4

6 anchovy fillets, rinsed and drained
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
2 hearts of romaine
Manchego cheese, shaved

Heat a grill to medium-high.

Using the flat side of a knife, mash the anchovies into a paste. In a small bowl, combine the anchovies with the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, and whisk thoroughly.

Slice the hearts of romain in half lengthwise, keeping the core intact. Brush each cut half generously with the dressing, reserving a little dressing for serving.

Grill the hearts of romaine, cut sides down, until soft and golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from heat and plate immediately. Drizzle remaining dressing, and finish with the manchego. Best served immediately.

  • Nicole - I’ve always wanted to make grilled caesar salad at home! Can’t wait to make this. I think I sing along my loudest to Huey Lewis and the News. If This Is It, Power of Love, Do You Believe in Love? Classics :)ReplyCancel

  • Annaliese - Caesar salad has been my favorite food since I was five. Excited to try your recipe!! Have a great time on the book tour, I will try to catch you at some point!ReplyCancel

  • Steven McGuire - Wow, this salad looks really awesome. It is so fresh, healthy and delicious at the same time. I am sure it will as good as the original caesar salad. i can’t wait to try this one. ReplyCancel

  • Five o'clock shallots - (I will deny this if ever quoted) but anything Britney, and especially If You Seek Amy gets me going. Great post. Sounds like awesome summer.ReplyCancel

  • Kari - So hard to decide… does HWY 101 count? I have to say a stop in Bodega Bay for some green grass meets the seas hikes.ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - I love love love grilled caesar salad. It almost tastes like meat, I swear it. Thanks for the recipe and inspiration! I want that cookbook. It caught my eye while I was perusing the latest issue of Sunset. AND I want to share a splendid destination for you while you’re in Seattle. An easy hike (a walk really), but beautiful: Denny Creek. A totally flat walk along a raging ice cold creek that ends at a huge waterfall. It’s about 1.5 hours outside of Seattle, but a not-bad stretch of I-5. The hike takes an hour or so each way. If it’s warm here when you visit in July (and I goddamn hope it is), wear a bathing suit and bring along a bottle of wine. Big congratulations on your book! I hope you have a great tour – I’m looking forward to the Book Larder event here in Seattle.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - I’m excited to see what west coast hikes/swimming holes/etc people suggest! For me, a hike near Lake Berryessa followed by a trip to Berryessa Brewing is becoming a welcome tradition.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I don’t know if this will be my anthem, but it was the first thing I thought of: Party in the USA.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - My favorite spot on I-5, between LA and the Bay is Tita’s Pupuseria Truck ( Delicious, giant pupusas hidden in a sea of fast food spots and gas station convenience stores.ReplyCancel

  • CINDY OWINGS - Love the idea of grilling lettuce! Going to put that on my summer list (if summer ever arrives here in Montana…snow this morning)! Great news on your book. Summer songs? I turn to my trusty little book “Campfire Songs’ chock full of old tunes that dyed-in-the-wool campers know. When I play “Where oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone’ on my melodica, all 3 of our wild dogs set to howling! Pretty hysterical!ReplyCancel

  • Allison - That sounds like a wonderful to-do list for summer- it is making me excited for the warmer weather and what I am looking forward to/ planning, as well. I like Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” (not sure if that is the correct title…). It is upbeat and reminds me of being young and carefree.ReplyCancel

  • Leah - Summer anthems change year to year, but Soak Up the Sun by Sheryl Crow will forever hold a special place in my summer music memoryReplyCancel

  • sahar - not gonna lie – our favorite place in the summer is the marymoor off leash dog park in redmond, our puppy can’t get enough of it!ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn!! - bon Jovi, always. Great for belting out while on a road trip! If you are the passenger, get some hair tossing in! I also love hiking in big sur and refueling at the big sur bakery with a baked good.ReplyCancel

  • Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health - lovely salad, i dont eat grilled greens often but this is tempting me. that cookbook sounds lovely.ReplyCancel

  • Heather S - My favorite is Fort Worden beach in the summer!ReplyCancel

  • la domestique - I’m a fan of grilled lettuce and this Caesar salad looks soooo good. Today I was sitting in a coffee shop in Dublin and it was all music from the 1990’s– I felt like a kid again, it was great! Growing up in Arkansas, summer was all about driving the highway, windows rolled down, singing along with the radio.ReplyCancel

  • sue obryan - Grilled really is the best! Now I grill Radicchio, Endive, Frisee too because of the wonderful flavor it imparts, and besides it’s easier to eat then stabbing at the raw greens and the grilled greens sop up the dressings better!!!ReplyCancel

  • J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats - Had a super crispy char grilled romaine salad at Rose’s Luxury in DC and it was amazing. I would add avocados to this caeser recipe :)ReplyCancel

  • Madeline - The Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” has got to be one the ultimate summer anthem albums!ReplyCancel

  • jamie - Big & Cheesy :: Taste the summer? Duran Duran
    Appropriate on so many levels. The whole album in anthemic and big and super cheesy. I love it.

    Spot :: The big wide open of Summer Lake Hot Springs, SE Oregon. Avoid near burning man time unless you want to be with lots of burners.ReplyCancel

  • Deborah Knuckey - Would love your book…. and favorite CA summer place on a Friday evening after a long week at work is the Lagunitas brewery beer garden, with some live R&B, excellent beer, sunshine. A good way to unwind in Petaluma before heading South to San Fancisco or north to wine country.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle - Summer Anthem- gotta be anything by the Beach Boys.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - Gorgeous salad! Very excited for the release of your book! Also, your west coast summer road trip sounds absolutely divine. Since living in SF, my summer anthem has been ‘Follow the Sun’ by Xavier Rudd. Certainly, it’s the only way to survive the SF summers.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - I wouldn’t call this cheesy, but I love waka waka in the summertime. Thanks for the give away!!ReplyCancel

  • Irina @ wandercrush - Gotta love the tongue-and-cheek comments. Way to prove them wrong (right?), too! I remember being skeptical about grilled romaine, but tried it and realised that the grill is truly a magical thing. Will add anchovies in the equation next time :)ReplyCancel

  • Maschera - This is the most testy Salad in the world. I taken many times. I think i will get more good recipe like that.

    Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Sara - Gorgeous salad, can’t wait to get your book! Music always gets me going, and “bubble gum” pop music has a special place in my heart too:) “Not a Bad Thing” by Justin Timberlake is a favorite:)ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - Calvin Harris ft Kelis: “Bounce”. I love that song and it reminds me of driving to Vegas which reminds me of summer. Really fun song!ReplyCancel

  • Carolsue - Whenever we are in the area, we go swimming at Pyramid Lake, which is located along Interstate I-5, about 20 miles north of Magic Mountain Amusement Park in Valencia California. Love it there!
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} NetReplyCancel

  • Jessica - I am a Midwesterner so I can’t comment on a favorite West Coast spot, but I do live less than a ten minute walk from the lake, and I love to grill at the beach. I am definitely making a grilled caesar salad this summer while listening to Neko Case’s newest album (Just saw her live last night-amazing!).ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay - This looks delicious, wow! Two of my most memorable road trip songs are “Graceland” by Paul Simon and “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range…from my Dad’s mixed tapes in the 1980s :)ReplyCancel

  • Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) - There is nothing better than grilled Caesar salad!!! It is the BEST.ReplyCancel

  • Sini | my blue&white kitchen - Oh Kimberley, a summer with a BOOK TOUR sounds amazing! Hope you’ll share those moments with us as well (at least on Instagram!). This salad looks fabulous! Can’t wait to make this at our summer house. Summer anthem? There really is just one answer: the Beach Boys.ReplyCancel

  • Gaby - Cougar/Terwilliger Hotsprings in Eugene, Oregon! Eugene also has beautiful community edible gardens and the ninkasi brewery. Much recommended.ReplyCancel

  • Heather | Heather Christo - Grilled caesar salads are the best! Great dressing recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Alex - OK, I’m constantly saying that I’m not a salad person, but this looks absolutely incredible! I love the fact that you grilled the lettuce to give it some flavor instead of just tossing it into a bowl. I can’t wait to try out this recipe and try to make it vegan friendly!ReplyCancel

  • Alanna - I was just ogling a recipe for this very thing in Sunset magazine last weekend – I’m enthralled! Love these beautiful photos, and all of these suggestions have me craving summer. I’m a huge fan of sipping a pint on the deck of the Tourist Club in Muir Woods on a sunny Sunday.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - Anyone catch the episode of Kitchen Nightmares a few years back when Chef Ramsey pretty much calls a restaurant every name in the book because they serve a Grilled Cesar?? … I LMAO every time seeing how trendy it has become (I mean, I laugh at Ramsey, NOT the salad)ReplyCancel

  • Piyaye - Nice pics… YummyReplyCancel

  • Monika - what a lovely twist! I’ll try that for sure in my backyard cement garden ;) And here goes a song from me Symmer Sun by Koop remixed by Marcus Enochson – I’m sure you’re going to love it (

  • Miachel | spiced curiosity - Summer Anthem: Love Interruption

    Craving some “wilted” Caesar salad. :)ReplyCancel

  • isabelle - We love the tide pools near Cannon Beach, pretty standard. We love going up to Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island, perhaps too far off the I5 corridor? We don’t find the WA coast to be very swim-friendly, so for swimming we go to lakes and rivers.ReplyCancel

  • Alyssa - If you like blogs about food and foodie books then come check out my blog @! Keep in mind that I am a new blogger and it is for school :) Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • omlet - This looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it. Pinning it now!ReplyCancel

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