The Best Romaine Salad Ever
Prep time
Cook time
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My favorite romaine salad ever with candied walnuts and pecorino cheese from Roberta's in Brooklyn.
Serves: 2 (with leftovers)
For the Roasted Garlic Dressing:
  • 1 head of garlic
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a splash for the garlic
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 5 anchovy fillets
  • Juice of half a lemon, plus more if needed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
For the Candied Walnuts:
  • 2 cups walnut halves
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3 packed tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Salad:
  • 2 romaine hearts, ends trimmed, leaves separated
  • ½ cup Pecorino Romano
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Roasted Garlic Dressing:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut a quarter inch off the head of garlic and place the head, cut side up, on a big square of aluminum foil. Give it a splash of water and a splash of olive oil. Bring the corners of the foil up over the garlic to make a loosely wrapped little package. Bake for a little less than 1 hour. Remove the garlic from the oven and let it cool in the foil. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of 4 or 5 cloves and set the rest aside for another use (it’s really good just spread on grilled bread), or, if you're like me, you can use more garlic - I probably used about 7 cloves. Leave the oven on for the walnuts.
  2. Put the roasted garlic, the raw clove of garlic, mustard, vinegars, egg yolks, anchovies, and lemon juice into a blender or food processor and blend for 30 seconds or until combined.
  3. While blending, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until it’s incorporated and the dressing looks smooth. The stream should be just a few tiny drops at a time, and as you go, you can add a bit more, but don't just pour the olive oil in. You want it to emulsify. Taste and add salt, pepper, and more lemon juice as desired. The dressing will keep for a week in the refrigerator.
For the Walnuts:
  1. Put the nuts on a baking sheet and roast at 350°F for 4 minutes and then turn the sheet 180 degrees and roast for another 4 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them cool. Turn the oven down to 275°F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until they begin to have body but not until they form soft peaks - you can definitely do this by hand. Add the brown sugar, honey, and about 10 turns of a pepper grinder’s worth of black pepper to the whites, and combine.
  3. Add the walnuts to the mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until they’re all well coated. Use a slotted spoon to spread them on a parchment-lined (or something lined - seriously) baking sheet and sprinkle them evenly with the salt. Do not just pour the walnuts onto the sheet as the egg white mixture will overwhelm the walnuts.
  4. Put them in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes. Then turn the baking sheet and bake for another 12 minutes; the nuts should be dry, not sticky. Remove them from the oven and let them cool. They’ll stay fresh for up to 2 weeks in a sealed container in a cool, dry place.
For the Romaine Salad:
  1. Wash and dry the romaine leaves and put them in a very large bowl - the bigger the better. Pour half the roasted garlic dressing over the leaves, and using your hands, gently scoop the lettuce from the bottom of the bowl up the sides - this is definitely a job for your hands, so put the tongs away. Gently toss until the leaves are well coated, adding more dressing if needed. You'll have leftover dressing, but this recipe is only for 2 salads, so you can have this salad all week if you want.
  2. Divide the lettuce between two plates, and using a hand-held fine grater, like a microplane, grate the Pecorino over each plate. Scatter the walnuts over the two plates and give each a grind of black pepper. Enjoy!
Recipe by The Crepes of Wrath at