Charred lettuce is having a bit of a moment and so it should because it’s delicious! The grilled side of the lettuce gets wonderfully smokey and goes places you never thought were possible for the humble salad green, while the outer leaves remain characteristically crisp. Top the transformed leaves with the rich flavours of a Caesar salad and, you have a summer meal worth coveting! Enter coconut bacon, gluten-free croutons and a creamy chickpea Caesar dressing.
for the salad
4 small-medium heads of cos lettuce
¼ red onion, finely diced
for the coconut bacon
1 Tbsp. tamari
1 ¼ tsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. liquid smoke
¼ tsp. smoked paprika
60g coconut flakes
for the croutons
100g gluten-free bread, cut into 1cm cubes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp flaky salt
for the dressing
juice of ½ a lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
100g chickpeas, cooked
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. Worcester sauce, vegan
1 tsp. capers
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
Cut the lettuce in half longways and wash well. Place the lettuce cut side down on a clean tea towel and allow to dry for half an hour before grilling (if the lettuce is wet it will steam rather than char in the grill pan).
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Combine the tamari, maple syrup, liquid smoke and smoked paprika in a bowl and mix well. Add the coconut flakes to the marinade and toss until they are well coated. Set aside for 10mins.
Drizzle the cubed bread with olive oil and salt and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Toast in the oven for 10mins or until crispy, tossing them halfway through. Remove the croutons and set to one side.
Turn the oven down to 160C and place the coconut flakes in an even layer on the tray. Toast the coconut for 5mins and give the tray a good shake. Turn the oven OFF and return the coconut flakes to the cooling over for 10mins.
To make the dressing add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until completely smooth. If the dressing is too thick add an extra Tbsp. of water.
Place a grill pan on the hob at the highest heat. Make sure the lettuce is dry and then once the pan is hot, drizzle with oil and place 2-3 lettuce halves, cut side down into the pan. Grill for 3-5mins or until charred and repeat with the remaining lettuce.
To serve place the lettuce halves on a large platter, grill side up, drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with red onion, croutons and coconut bacon.