Throw your lettuce on the grill right now: This charred whole romaine Caesar is our salad of the summer

Make room on the barbecue, lettuce coming through!

Make room on the barbecue, lettuce coming through!

(Photography by EE Berger)

It’s time to start grilling your lettuce. Yes, lettuce. And this take on a classic Caesar salad from Abra Berens’s new cookbook, Ruffage is the best place to begin. Not only does the romaine take on a bit of a smoky flavour from the BBQ, but a quick sear helps to bring out the natural sweetness in the lettuce itself. A little lighter than the traditional version, this deconstructed dish ditches a creamy dressing for an anchovy vinaigrette. Top with grated hard-boiled eggs and garlicy bread crumbs, and serve it all up on a platter at your next al fresco feast for a seriously stunning salad.

Charred Whole Romaine w/ Hard-Boiled Egg, Anchovy Vinaigrette, and Garlic Bread Crumbs

By Abra Berens

Sturdy head lettuce can take some heat and benefits from the smoky char of the grill. Leaving the core intact makes the whole operation easier because stray leaves won’t slide away and into the coals. You can grill hard, allowing the outside leaves to burn fully and steam the center. Or you can grill lightly, singeing the leaves but not cooking the crispness out of the center stems.


  • 2 hard-boiled eggs peeled
  • ½ cup Anchovy Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
  • 3 chives or scallions, minced (optional but really nice)
  • 1 head (340 g) romaine, cut into halves (if small) or quarters (if large) with core intact, rinsed and dried on paper towels
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • ¼ cup Garlic Bread Crumbs (see recipe below)

Anchovy Vinaigrette:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion or shallot, minced
  • 4 (40 g each) anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp any sort of vinegar except balsamic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt

Garlic Bread Crumbs:

  • ¼ cup neutral oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup bread crumbs or panko


Grate the eggs on the largest tooth side of a box grater and add to the vinaigrette along with the scallions. Lightly drizzle the dried lettuce with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill until the outside leaves are charred and the core a bit tender.

Spoon the chunky vinaigrette over the grilled lettuce. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and serve.

Anchovy Vinaigrette:

Whisk all the ingredients together.

Garlic Bread Crumbs:

In a large frying pan, heat the oil until shimmering hot and add the garlic and salt. Remove from the heat so the garlic doesn’t burn, and let sit for 10 minutes (or cook the garlic on low for 5 minutes, keeping a sharp eye out to prevent burning). Add the bread crumbs and stir to combine. Return to the heat and toast the oily bread crumbs until golden brown and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Store in an airtight container and sprinkle on any and all savory dishes. 

Excerpted from Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables by Abra Berens. Photographs by EE Berger. Copyright 2019. Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?