Grilled Salmon Caesar Salad

published May 20, 2023
Grilled Salmon Caesar Recipe

Every component of this leveled-up Caesar salad is cooked on the grill – from the romaine and salmon to the lemon and croutons.

ServesServes 4

Prep25 minutes

Cook15 minutes to 20 minutes

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Grilled Salmon Caesar Salad
Credit: Kelli Foster

Of all the ways to make a salad feel (and taste!) totally impressive, there is nothing I love more than taking it to the grill. This salad was born out of my love of grilled romaine — with its warm, wilted leaves and slightly smoky scent — and succulent grilled salmon that cooks in just six (yes, six!) minutes. There’s romaine, crispy croutons, and a thick, creamy dressing kissed with tangy lemon, Parmesan, and anchovy, just as you’d expect from a classic Caesar. But, with my version every component of the salad gets grilled, from the romaine to the lemon for the dressing to the bread for the croutons to the salmon, to deliver a leveled-up Caesar salad with a smoky twist. 

Credit: Kelli Foster

How to Grill an Entire Salad

Before heading outdoors, get two rimmed baking sheets handy — one for the lettuce, bread, and lemon, and another for the salmon. These make it easy to transport all the ingredients to and from the grill. If your grill is large enough and there’s no crowding, you can grill the romaine, lemon, and bread all at the same time. 

  • Romaine: Cut the romaine hearts in half lengthwise. Brush all over with olive oil and season with salt. Grill directly on the grill grates, turning halfway through.
  • Lemon: Cut the lemon in half crosswise and brush the cut side with olive oil. Grill cut-side down undisturbed until dark grill marks appear.
  • Sourdough bread: Brush a couple slices of sourdough with olive oil and season with salt. Grill directly on the grates, flipping halfway through, until both sides are lightly browned with grill marks. Once cool enough to handle, cut into cubes.
  • Salmon: Pat dry with paper towels, brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill the salmon last, about three minutes per side.

After all of the salad components are grilled, head back to the kitchen to blitz the dressing together in the blender. It’s fun to arrange the salad family-style on a large platter for serving, though it can also be plated directly onto dinner plates.

Grilled Salmon Caesar Recipe

Every component of this leveled-up Caesar salad is cooked on the grill – from the romaine and salmon to the lemon and croutons.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Serves Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4

    (6-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets, thawed if frozen

  • 1/2 cup

    plus 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 2

    medium lemons

  • 4 ounces

    uncut sourdough bread (about 1/4 loaf)

  • 4

    medium romaine lettuce hearts (7 to 8 ounces each)

  • 1 ounce

    Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup finely grated or 1/3 cup store-bought grated)

  • 10

    oil-packed anchovy fillets (about 1 ounce)

  • 1

    small clove garlic

  • 2 teaspoon

    Dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. If using an outdoor gas grill, heat for medium-high, direct heat (about 400ºF). If using a charcoal grill, build a fire for both direct and indirect heat. Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients for grilling.

  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pat 4 salmon fillets dry with paper towels and place on the baking sheet. Brush the salmon all over with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Let sit while you prepare the vegetables and dressing.

  3. Prepare the following, adding each to a second rimmed baking sheet as you complete it: Halve 2 medium lemons crosswise, then brush the cut sides with 1/2 teaspoon of the olive oil. Cut 4 ounces sourdough bread into 1/2-inch thick slices. Brush the slices all over with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season all over with a pinch of kosher salt. Halve 4 medium romaine hearts lengthwise through the core. Brush 3 tablespoons of the olive oil all over the romaine, then season the cut sides with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt.

  4. When the grill is ready, scrub the grill grates if needed. Oil the grill grates with a paper towel dipped in olive oil.

  5. Grill the lemons, bread, and romaine (at the same time if you can fit it all in one layer without crowding the grill): Place cut-side down on the grill grates (over the coals if using a charcoal grill). Grill uncovered until grill marks form on the bottom of the lemons, 6 to 8 minutes. Grill the bread until lightly toasted with grill marks, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Grill the romaine (press down lightly with tongs) until charred in spots and starting to wilt, about 3 minutes per side.

  6. Return everything to the same baking sheet as it is ready. When the bread is cool enough to handle, cut or tear into rough 1-inch pieces (about 2 3/4 cups). Reduce the heat to medium on a gas grill.

  7. Grill salmon: Place the salmon skin-side up on the grill (on the cooler side of a charcoal grill). Cover and grill for 3 minutes. Slide a fish spatula or other thin, stiff spatula under the salmon to loosen, then carefully flip. Cover and grill until uniformly opaque on the outside and tender to the touch (medium to well doneness for salmon is 125°F to 145°F), or by sliding a paring knife into the middle to peek inside — the interior should be rosy and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes more. Remove and discard the foil and return the salmon to the clean baking sheet.

  8. Make the dressing: Prepare the following, adding each to a blender as you complete it: Juice the lemons until you have 1/4 cup. Finely grate 1 ounce Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup lightly packed) if needed, or measure out 1/3 cup store-bought. Add 10 anchovy fillets, 1 small peeled garlic clove, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon black pepper.

  9. Blend until smooth, about 20 seconds. With the motor running, remove the inner cap on the lid and slowly pour in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Continue blending until creamy and emulsified, about 10 seconds more.

  10. Transfer the romaine cut-size up to a serving platter. Remove and discard the salmon skin. Break the flesh into large chunks and scatter over the romaine. Top the salad with the croutons and drizzle with the dressing.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The dressing can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container; rewhisk before using.

Substitutions: 3/4 cup of favorite bottled Caesar dressing can be used in place of homemade.