Grilled Caesar Salad With Chile Powder Croutons
Note: You can make the Parmesan bowls in a skillet (as “crisps” instead), but you’ll need the microwave for the bowl effect. From “Smokin’ Hot in the South,” by Melissa Cookston.
Chile Powder Croutons:
• 1 tsp. ancho chile powder
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 2 c. torn or cut bread (such as Italian or French) in 1-in. pieces
• 1 (2-oz.) can anchovy fillets in oil, drained, optional
• 4 garlic cloves
• 2 egg yolks
• 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
• 1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
• 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
• 1/2 c. olive oil
Parmesan bowls and romaine:
• 2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
• 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
• 4 romaine lettuce hearts, stems intact (or whole heads of romaine, tough outer leaves removed)
• 1/2 c. olive oil
To prepare the croutons: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, mix chile powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Lay out bread pieces on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil mixture, then toss to coat. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, tossing after 5 minutes, to taste until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
To make dressing: In a blender pulse the anchovy fillets, garlic, egg yolks and mustard. Add lemon juice, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pulse to incorporate. With blender running on low, slowly pour in 1/2 cup olive oil to form an emulsion. Remove and place in a small bowl until ready to serve.
To make Parmesan bowls: Start with 2 large salad bowls that “nest” tightly to make a nice-sized bowl for the Parmesan. On a 10-inch square of parchment paper, spread 1/4 cup Parmesan in a circle 7 to 8 inches wide. Lightly sprinkle with black pepper, then microwave on high for 90 seconds. Remove, trying to keep parchment taut. Center paper over open bowl, then use a second, slightly smaller bowl to press down the cheese and mold it into the bottom bowl. Flip bowls, wait 1 minute, then remove top bowl and parchment. Remove Parmesan bowl and set aside. Repeat 3 more times with remaining Parmesan.
To prepare lettuce: Preheat grill to cook at a medium-hot level. Brush outer romaine leaves with olive oil, then place on the grate and grill, rotating the lettuce so all sides get marked, just until nice grill marks form, about 1 minute per side.
To serve: Arrange Parmesan bowl on small salad plate. Take grilled romaine and cut about 1 to 1 1/2 inches from bottom to remove core. Hold leaves together and place inside bowl standing up. Place a few croutons around each lettuce and drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.