Seared Caesar Salad with Blackberries and Pepitas

Grilled Caesar salads are very in right now.  The first one I tasted was at Flatbush Farm in Brooklyn.  It is a dish that combines three of my eating goals: foods that taste good, foods that help you poop, and foods cooked with fire (which is actually a sub-category of foods that taste good).  While most people would agree everything tastes better grilled, most people also don't whip out the grill for a quick weeknight meal.  I own a charcoal grill, which commits me to at least an hour of figuring out every single thing in my house that I have that I can throw on the grill while the coals are still hot in order to maximize their utility.

One thing I do own which I am never hesitant to pull out for a quick meal is my cast iron griddle.  I had made kale Caesar salad before with kale from my garden and this recipe with some adaptations, so I made the same dressing and sliced some Romaine hearts longitudinally.  The changes I made to the salad dressing were to use anchovy paste instead of anchovy fillets and Asiago cheese instead of the traditional Parmesan.  Anchovy paste is easier to find where I live, but anchovy fillets are definitely worth the splurge.  I do plan on buying a jar when next given the opportunity.  I changed the cheese only because that's what I keep in the drawer.  With my trusty jar of duck fat, I was able to achieve a great sear on my salad with a greater depth of flavor than a simple Caesar.  Even my husband liked this salad.  Because we are still able to get gorgeous local blackberries, I threw some of those on there too to balance the anchovies.  Another bonus?  I don't have to clean the grill afterwards!

I served this salad with oven roasted cauliflower. To make the cauliflower, preheat the oven to 375 F, cut the florets from the cauliflower, and toss the florets with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about an hour, stirring with a spatula halfway through. 

Seared Caesar Salad with Blackberries and Pepitas
Dressing makes enough for 4-5 salads

1 Romaine lettuce heart
Duck fat/coconut oil/bacon fat/preferred cooking fat

Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 2-3 anchovy fillets
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese

Grated Asiago cheese

1.  Heat a few spoonfuls of cooking fat on cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.  While the pan is heating, slice the Romaine hearts in half longitudinally.  Once the pan is hot, place the Romaine hearts cut side down onto the pan.  Allow to sear for 8-10 minutes or until desired level of browning has occurred.  I also cheat and put each lettuce half on the uncut sides for a couple minutes to increase the duck fat char surface area.

2.  While the lettuce is cooking, combine the lemon juice, anchovy, garlic, mustard, olive oil, and cheese in a food processor or blender and then process until smooth.  Add/subtract/salt/pepper to taste

3.  Once the lettuce has achieved the desired level of sear, place on serving plates and cover with a couple tablespoons of the dressing.  Sprinkle on some blackberries, pepitas, and additional cheese as desired.

The Romaine halves searing on the griddle

Salad closeup to show the sear beneath the blackberries


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