At Rose’s Luxury in Washington, you might wait hours for a table, but once you sit, chef Aaron Silverman appeases with playful food such as this Mexican twist on a Caesar salad.
We streamlined it for the home cook, but you could embellish by topping it with roasted poblano strips the way Silverman does, or with black beans, even tortilla chips.
This makes twice the dressing you need, but you’ll devour it as a dip.
Look for cotija, a crumbly Mexican cheese, at Latin groceries or under the Queso Del Valle brand at some Whole Foods Markets.
Burnt romaine with avocado and cotija
Put 1 husked and rinsed tomatillo, 1 seeded and sliced jalapeno pepper, 1 large chopped white onion and 1 garlic clove in a saucepan, and add water to barely cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the tomatillo starts to soften and turns a khaki color, 10 minutes. Strain, reserving the cooking liquid.
Transfer the vegetables to a blender, and add the flesh of 1 avocado, 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, the juice of 1 lime, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Puree until smooth.
Preheat a charcoal or gas grill (or indoor grill pan) to medium-high heat.
Cut 2 hearts of romaine lettuce or small heads in half lengthwise, leaving the core intact. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Grill, cut sides down, until blackened in spots, then flip and grill briefly on the other side until the interior is barely soft, about 1 minute.
Put a generous dollop of the dressing on each plate, lay each romaine half on top, cut side up, and scatter on the toppings: 1/4 cup diced white onion, the cubed flesh of 1 avocado and 1/4 cup fresh cotija cheese (or feta if you’d prefer). Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.