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Grilled Caesar Salad - total time 15 minutes

I'm not a vegan or even vegetarian, but I have attempted both.  I have great respect for people who strictly follow a veg way of life because I am still constantly amazed with seemingly vegetarian foods not being vegetarian at all!

One time I was buying some packaged fresh mozzarella and noticed the container said 'vegetarian' on it.  That's odd, of course cheese is vegetarian, it isn't meat... that is a pretty hard line definition there.  Then I found out how cheese is made.  It's surprising to me that even though we have plant-based enzymes that can culture cheese the same way as animal-based enzymes, most cheeses are not technically vegetarian.  That's an annoying technicality I usually overlook myself, but if I notice the label says vegetarian, I'm more likely to buy it.

Another thing is gelatin, which is used in so many things that seem vegetarian like jello, fruit snacks, jams/jellies, marshmallows, mints, and more.  With the press around omega-3s over the past decade or so, food manufacturers have been adding fish oil to things like orange juice, breads, and vitamins.  And my most recent discovery (and reason for this rant) is caesar dressing includes anchovies!?  Seriously!?!

Well, the easy solution for me was to swap in buttermilk ranch dressing into my 'caesar' salad instead (I like it better any way).  But that's not all!  Grilling your romaine adds a little crunch and a bit of sweet smokiness.  And then making your own croutons means you're in control of the flavor.  Altogether, this makes one awesome salad that is totally satisfying by itself or as a side.

1 head of romaine
3 slices of bread
2 tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, minced
.5 lemon
3 oz parm, shredded
6 tbsp ranch dressing
salt and pepper

1.  Heat grill (or pan) to medium heat.  Cut romaine into thirds or quarters (depending on how large), rinse and dry thoroughly.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2.  Melt butter in separate pan and add garlic.  Chop bread into .5-1 inch cubes and toss into the butter.  Add salt and pepper then flip bread cubes around every 2-3 minutes to get all sides.
3.  Place romaine on the grill.  Turn it with thongs after 2-3 minutes.  After all sides have grill marks, place each wedge on a plate.
4.  Squeeze a little lemon juice on each wedge (about 5-10 drops).  Shred parm on top of the lettuce and drizzle some ranch dressing over top.  Lastly, sprinkle the warm croutons on top.  Serve immediately.

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