Ten years ago I had my first grilled romaine experience.  I WISH I could remember the name of the restaurant. By far, the best food we had on our trip.  It was on the water in San Diego. You know the one…  The menu was an amazing read, but out of all the items we tried, this salad was the most memorable for me. I’ve never mastered the same grilled romaine, but the version we have in our catalog is really good. I know now that the secret to a good tasting grilled romaine is the smoke you achieve from your grill.  It seems to turn out best and tastier when cooked on a charcoal grill. But if you don’t have one, you can create a bit of smoke and flavor with apple chips and foil and place in your gas grill just before putting in the romaine.

Serves 4 to 8 depending on portions


  • 2 firm heads of romaine
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 1 T Dijon
  • 1 T good mayonnaise
  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 3 T capers, plus 2 T for garnish
  • 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 C grated pecorino or asiago or parmesan
  • 2 – 3 vine ripened organic tomatoes
  • 1/4 C chopped organic Italian parsley
  • Toasted herb croutons (optional)

With the stem attached, cut heads of romaine lengthwise into quarters.  Place on sheet pan.  Drizzle with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Set aside until grill is ready.

On a cutting board, finely mince your garlic and with the side of a knife carefully begin making a paste with the anchovy and garlic. Once the paste is formed, place in a medium size bowl and add in dijon, mayonnaise, lemon juice and begin whisking in the 1/2 cup of olive oil, slowly drizzling in to the mixture to form a slightly thick dressing. Add in salt and pepper and whisk in.

Prepare the grill by brushing with a bit of canola oil. Once grill is at a medium-hot temperature, place quartered romaine directly over flame to get grill marks – this takes about 20-30 seconds. Watching carefully so oil doesn’t spark up a bigger flame and catch fire. After 20-30 seconds, flip over and grill for same amount of time. Once grill marks are done, move lettuce away from direct flame, but still on grill and so inner portion of lettuce is right side up. With a spoon, drizzle half of the mustard-anchovy-caper dressing onto the lettuce, getting it down in between the leaves. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese and cover grill. Allow to cook just long enough for the cheese to melt for just a few minutes. Transfer the each piece of romaine to a platter. Pour the remaining vinaigrette over each piece and garnish with additional capers, cracked black pepper and toasted herb croutons. Serves 4.

Cook’s Notes

  • During the winter and spring months, I buy the organic packs of romaine at Trader Joe’s because they hold up better in the grilling process than the heads of romaine at the grocery stores.  Summer season features denser heads and you’ll have good luck with those.
  • We made croutons with left over naan bread (you can use just about anything you have on hand).  I brushed it with olive oil, salt, Italian seasoning and fresh basil.  Made for a nice bite with the vinaigrette!
  • We also love making this salad with grilled chicken, steak or shrimp!