Grilled Caesar Salad

            You know that January night when you come home from work and say, “Wait a minute, isn’t the sun usually down by now?”  There is some lingering daylight hanging over the backyard and the long-shrouded barbecue is giving you a nod.  We’re a month past solstice and at a minute per day, it amounts to something.
            I wanted so much to make this grilled Caesar salad last summer, but in Tunisia, Romaine lettuce is a winter crop, not summer.  It is perfect and abundant now so tonight, we have a great opportunity to bring some summer into our winter work week.
            I use non-stick aluminum foil on the grill.  With some planning, I can cycle through the entire meal with one set of foil.  I started with leeks wrapped in pancetta and drizzled with excellent olive oil.   Wrapping vegetables in pancetta and grilling them is one of my go-to food preparations.  I do an entire bundle of vegetables at once and then put them in scrambled eggs for breakfast during the rest of the week.
            Next, I toasted bread, tossed in the leeky, salty olive oil.  This is basically Texas Toast.  Funny thing, my dad is from Texas and everything great in our house, when I was growing up, was from Texas.  I actually thought that Texas Toast was my dad’s invention until about 3 months ago when I heard my Canadian friend, Paul, mention Texas Toast to his sons in the context of not having a toaster yet because their shipment hadn’t yet arrived.
            Finally, you put the Romaine lettuce on the grill and leave it only until it develops grill marks.  Grilling it in whole heads is extra beautiful, but mine came apart on its own.
Dressing:
2 flat anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
2 small garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Artisinal salt (I used Himalayan pink salt)
Freshly ground pepper
Blend all ingredients until emulsified.  Adjust amounts to taste.
           We bought these eggs, individually, yesterday in the Tunisian countryside.  I carried them home in a plastic bag.  I felt like I was playing a party game on the way home, trying not to break the eggs.  I won!
           Toss the greens with the dressing, to taste.  Coursely chop the leeks and pancetta and place on top.   Dust with freshly grated Parmesan and pepper.

It doesn’t just taste like a summer salad.  It’s a little bit roasted, a little bit wilted.  It suits winter.

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