When the weather hits 90 degrees, only a salad will do. Enter chef, cookbook author, and Today-show food stylist Ashton Keefe, who created this leaner, meaner take on the classic Caesar. Made with grilled romaine and a creamy yet yolk-less dressing, the dish gets its crunch from the addition of baked chickpeas, and the grill imparts warmth and a slight smoke that deepens the flavors of all of the ingredients involved. It's the perfect crowd-pleasing starter for a group—impressive without too much fuss. Or top it with some rotisserie chicken from the local grocery store, and you've got an easy weeknight dinner that's made for the summer.
Summer Caesar Salad
- (1) 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and dried
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 heads of romaine, washed with leaves separated
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- 1 head of celery, stalks finely sliced on a bias and leaves reserved
- 1 cup parsley leaves
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 anchovies, packed in olive oil
- ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
In a large high-sided pan, heat ½ cup olive oil over medium heat. Add chickpeas and stir occasionally until crispy and fried; remove chickpeas and place on a sheet tray or plate lined with paper towels. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt. (Can be made up to 1 day ahead.)
Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Divide the romaine leaves into two piles, drizzle half with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Grill until char marks form; remove from grill and chop both grilled and raw romaine into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl. Toss in chickpeas, celery stalks, celery leaves, and parsley.
In a small bowl, whisk shallot, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, lemon juice, anchovies, and cheese together. Slowly stream in remaining ¼ cup olive oil until dressing is emulsified. Add more olive oil as desired for a less “bitter” dressing.
Combine salad and dressing, and serve immediately.