Grilled Caesar Salad with Chickpea Croûtons
As your friend, I am telling you that grilling lettuce may change your life forever. And at the very least it’ll revolutionise your salad. Romaine is a hearty beast that stands up to the grill’s high heat, while its structure can hold its shape during cooking. This technique brings crazy flavour to a rather bland leaf, and the Chickpea Croûtons and Tahini Caesar Dressing take this dish to a place you’ve only dreamed.
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side
For the tahini Caesar dressing
1 garlic clove
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp gluten-free tamari
fine sea salt
For the chickpea croûtons
450g cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
For the salad
2 heads of romaine lettuce
coconut oil, for rubbing
fine sea salt
To make the dressing: In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend on high until smooth, adding more water as necessary, up to 250ml in total. Season with salt. Store leftover dressing in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.
To make the croûtons: Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Spread the chickpeas out on a clean kitchen towel and rub them dry, discarding any loose skins. Pour the chickpeas into a medium bowl and toss with the coconut oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Transfer the chickpeas to a rimmed baking sheet lined with baking paper, and roast for 25-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Leave the chickpeas to cool, and serve them at room temperature. They will crisp up quite a bit once they’ve cooled, so don’t worry if they are still a little soft when you take them out of the oven. Store the chickpeas in an airtight glass container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
To make the salad: Remove the looser outer leaves from the romaine heads (and save them for another salad) so all that remains are the tighter, inner leaves.
Cut off the top quarter of each head (and save the tops for another salad). Slice the head in half lengthways. Rub both the outsides and cut sides with a little coconut oil and sprinkle with a couple of pinches of sea salt.
Preheat a grill on high (a stovetop grill pan also works). When it is very hot, place the lettuce halves on the grill, cut-sides down, and cook for 3-4 minutes until charred and grill marks appear. Flip and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
To serve, place a lettuce half on each plate and let guests dress and garnish the salads themselves. (The croûtons will soften quite quickly once in contact with the dressing, so it’s best if diners add their own dressing.)
Extracted from Naturally Nourished by Sarah Britton. Published by Jacqui Small, an imprint of The Quarto Group. Photography © Sarah Britton.