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Caesar salads are reappearing on menus, but in cooked form. You don’t usually think of grilling or pan-frying lettuce, but doing so magically changes it into something more umami and exciting. Spotted: at Farm 255 in Athens, Georgia, with fried capers and an anchovy vinaigrette; at Savannah’s Cha-Bella with seared shrimp and scallops; and at FIG in Santa Monica, where little gem lettuce (rather than romaine) is charred on the stovetop, then dressed with lemon and anchovy juice (you can substitute a bit of fish sauce if you are experimenting at home).
“We make it to order,” says FIG chef Ray Garcia. “A big part of the salad is to have contrast of textures and temperatures.”
Try making your own by throwing romaine in a hot, hot oiled pan (preferably a cast iron skillet) until it blisters, then dressing it with CHOW’s Caesar Dressing, croutons, and shaved Parmesan cheese. CHOW’s Grilled Greek Salad recipe is another fun hot lettuce number.