Grilled Romaine Salad

A few weeks back, my friend Stacy from Paleo Parents sent a text to me and our mutual friend, Jennifer from Predominantly Paleo, that went something like this: “Hey, I want to recreate this Red Robin Banzai Burger that I’ve loved for years and we should do a collaborative project because you two are pretty cool.” I liked the idea of teaming up with some other bloggers for something new, and I’m always game for recreating particular flavors (I did write a book of restaurant recreations, after all). So I jumped into the game.

While most folks associate Red Robin with burgers, they have an impressive selection of salads as well. This Caeser-dressed and fire-grilled salad, affectionately called “Insane Romaine”, is a favorite of mine, and I thought this was a great opportunity to recreate their dish plus finally try my hand at a homemade Caesar salad dressing.

Once we had our project in mind, we started talking to Chosen Foods, who recently debuted their avocado oil-based mayonnaise, and decided to take the collaboration one step further: we all featured the mayo in our recipes, too. Be sure to check the bottom of this post for the other two dishes included in our Red Robin recreation progressive dinner: the aforementioned Banzai Burgers plus some crispy fries and “Campfire Sauce”.

I assumed that the dressing would be the star of the show, but little did I know that these roasted cherry tomatoes would end up being my favorite – they’re like tiny little flavor bombs. While the tomatoes seem like one of the easiest items in this dish, they take the longest. In fact, the rest of the recipe can be put together while the tomatoes are roasting.

Grilled Romaine Salad (Gluten-free, Paleo, Primal, Perfect Health Diet)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
~2 tbsp olive oil, divided
salt and pepper

Caesar dressing (short version)
1 clove garlic
2oz anchovy filets (~6 filets) or 2 tsp anchovy paste
2 tbsp lemon juice (juice of 1-2 lemons), more to taste
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Caesar dressing (long version)
1 clove garlic
2oz anchovy filets (~6 filets) or 2 tsp anchovy paste
2 egg yolks, room temperature
2 tbsp lemon juice (juice of 1-2 lemons), more to taste
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup avocado oil
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
kosher salt and pepper to taste

4 chicken breasts, sliced in half (see note below)
4 hearts of romaine lettuce, sliced in half lengthwise

shredded or shaved parmesan cheese to scatter (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Toss the tomatoes with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment pepper, facing cut-side up. Roast until dark in color and somewhat dry looking, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, let’s make the dressing, chicken, and lettuce.

2. To make the short version Caesar dressing, chop the garlic and anchovy into a paste, then add to a mixing bowl. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, add salt and pepper to taste, and add a bit more lemon juice if the dressing gets too thick.

3. To make the long version Caesar dressing, chop the garlic and anchovy into a paste, then add to a mixing bowl. Whisk in the yolks, lemon juice, and mustard. Combine the olive and avocado oils in a pourable container, then slowly drizzle the oil into the mixing bowl while whisking like the dickens to create and emulsion. This works best with two people, one to pour and another to hold the bowl and whisk. The dressing will thicken into a mayo-like texture. Whisk in the parmesan cheese then add salt and pepper to taste (it doesn’t take much) and a bit of lemon juice if the dressing gets too thick. Alternatively, if you have an immersion blender and a wide-mouth mason jar, you can add the first ingredients (garlic/anchovy, yolks, lemon juice, mustard) to the jar, then place the immersion blender in the jar, turn it on, and slowly pour in the oil while gently moving the blender up and down (also works best with two people).

4. Prep the chicken for grilling. Place the chicken flat on a cutting board, then slice each breast in half lengthwise to make 2 thin butterflied cutlets, 8 total. Toss with ~1 tbsp olive oil and some salt and pepper, then set aside.

5. Preheat your grill for direct high heat (turn all your burners on full blast for a gas grill, or center the charcoal in the grill for a charcoal grill). Grill the chicken pieces until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side, then set aside to cool. Slice the romaine hearts in half lengthwise, then brush with more olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Grill cut-side-down until charred, about 1-2 minutes, then flip and grill until the outer leaves start to wilt, about one minute.

6. Slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces, then put everything together: place the lettuce cut-side-up, then scatter with chicken and roasted tomatoes; drizzle with the dressing and scatter with some shredded parmesan cheese.

** Dairy-free? No worries, simply omit the parmesan cheese from the dressing and at the end of the recipe.

** The tomatoes, dressing, and chicken can all be made up to a day in advance.

Here are the ingredients for the long version Caeser dressing…

…and here are the ingredients for the short version. Each method produced the same Caesar flavor, and I was impressed with Chosen Foods’ new mayonnaise, which is made with cage-free eggs and organic ingredients. Their avocado oil has been our go-to oil for making mayo these past couple of years, so it’s nice to see that they’re offering a high-quality solution to those folks who would rather not make their own every time.

I don’t want to tell you how to run your life, but if you made my gluten-free pizza crust and topped it with these ingredients you would basically have the best pizza experience ever.

We did that very thing with these leftover ingredients: brushed some olive oil on the crust, added the chicken, tomatoes, and some sliced mushrooms, then topped it with cheese; while it baked, I chopped up some charred lettuce and tossed it with the dressing, and then spread it over the cooked pizza.

Be sure to check out the other two dishes from our Red Robin recreation progressive dinner:

Banzai Burgers by Paleo Parents
Crispy Fries with Campfire Sauce by Predominantly Paleo

23 thoughts on “Grilled Romaine Salad

  1. I`ve made grilled romaine lettuce many times before and the funny thing is that I do it almost the same way: with homemade caeser dressing, cherry tomatoes and I did add avocado slices to the salad. Nice post!


  2. Just FYI, with an emersion blender the process is super easy and does not require two people. Just put all the ingredients in the wide mouth mason jar, add the oil last. Allow the ingredients to settle for about 1-2 minutes and then stick the blender in. Start on low and walah, easy as well easy as no fail mayonnaise.


    1. Agree! With an immersion blender you can dd everything at once and just blend slowly – no need for 2 ppl. I’ve made mayo with it and it was very good but used only olive oil and it was too bitter so the avocado oil will prob solve that. Thanks!


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