In my first cooking job at Al Forno restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island, I made a lot of the restaurant’s signature Caesar salads. I washed a ton of romaine during prep time and always made a fresh batch of creamy Caesar dressing, emulsified in the blender. When an order came in, the grill cook threw a diagonal slice of baguette on the grill and then handed it off to me to top the salad I was building. I’ve made versions of that salad ever since, and I love to serve it with Grilled Mayonnaise-Mustard Chicken for a nice, light summery Friday night supper.

If you decide to add the chicken, prepare the lettuce and the dressing ahead, then grill the chicken, followed by the bread for the croutons. (Another night, if you just want to make the grilled bread, get that recipe here.)

At the restaurant, we stacked whole inner romaine leaves for a pretty presentation. I think it is easier to serve (and eat) the salad with chopped romaine, but if you want to play around with the stacked, whole-leaf presentation, go for it.

Serves 3 to 4  (easily doubled)

  • 2 hearts of romaine, trimmed, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces, washed, and dried (about 5 to 6 cups) 
  • A handful of fresh parsley leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 recipe Creamy, Lemony Blender Caesar Dressing  
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3 to 4 slices peasant bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe Grilled Mayonnaise-Mustard Chicken (optional)


1. Put the romaine and half of the parsley leaves in a large mixing bowl or salad bowl. Arrange the dressing, the Parmigiano, and the extra parsley leaves near by. Have three dinner plates ready as well.

2. Prepare a medium-hot gas or charcoal fire. (If you are using grilled chicken, go ahead and cook the chicken now.) Generously brush the bread slices on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Grill the bread, covered, until golden brown on both sides, 1 to 3 minutes per side.  Let the bread cool for a few minutes and then cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

3.  Add a pinch of salt and about half of the dressing to the romaine and parsley in the salad bowl and toss gently with your hands until nicely coated. Taste a leaf and add more dressing as necessary. Add about half of the Parmigiano and several grinds of fresh pepper and toss lightly again. Add more cheese if desired.

4. Slice the chicken thinly, if using. Arrange a portion of dressed salad on each plate, and top with several slices of  grilled chicken (if using). Spoon a small amount of dressing over the chicken, if desired. Garnish the salad with additional Parmigianno, the extra parsley, and the croutons. Serve right away.