Little Gem Lettuce leaves hold all the classic flavors of a traditional Caesar salad with a kick of heat to bring it over the top in this Caesar Little Gem Recipe.
Caesar Little Gem Lettuce Recipe
It’s a mixed rustic salad in a large serving bowl to share with friends.
It’s a lovely, elegant plated appetizer at a small dinner party.
It’s a beautiful platter of hors d’oeuvres being passed around at a cocktail party.
This Spicy Caesar Little Gems recipe is all of these things — no matter what you call it, how you serve it, or how you toss it — these Little Gem lettuce leaves are a mouthful of umami deliciousness!
And how sweet is Little Gem Lettuce!? I know, right?
What is Little Gem Lettuce?
Little Gem lettuce can be described as a combination of Butter lettuce and Romaine lettuce — it’s crisp like Romaine and subtly sweet and tender like Butter.
Each leaf is is very small — making it the perfect size to hold a lot of different ingredients.
Just one or two bites each, the tender leaves are the perfect vehicle to the fresh, tart and spicy components to this salad.
First Course or an Hors D’Oeuvre
While I do love this Caesar Little Gem recipe in a plate, my favorite way to eat it is by the leaf, as an hors d’oeuvre.
They’re a fun, healthy and unexpected way to start a meal.
The fresh lettuce drizzled with a homemade Caesar-esque dressing, with a punch of heat, and a sprinkling of crisp breadcrumbs, is a treat that will wow your guests . . . and you!
I’ve seen Little Gem lettuce at several major grocery stores, and Trader Joe’s. Keep you eyes open!
A couple more recipe ideas using Little Gem Lettuce:
- You could use them instead of the endive in this Sweet and Spicy Tomato-Mango Goat Cheese Appetizer.
- For this delicious Little Gem Salad with Creamy Walnut Apple Dressing from Sippity Sup.
Little Gem Lettuce leaves hold all the classic flavors of a traditional Caesar salad with a kick of heat to bring it over the top.
- about 3 dozen Little Gem Lettuce leaves (about 4 heads, washed and dried)
- about 1/2 large egg yolk (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 3/4 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use less if you don’t want too much heat)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- about 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, toasted (see notes)
- red pepper flakes
- thinly sliced lemon for garnish
Spread the leaves out on a serving platter or small plates. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 egg yolk (don’t worry about being exact!), with the lemon juice, anchovy paste, honey, mustard, garlic and cayenne. Whisk until smooth.
Then whisking constantly, very slowly, in a steady stream, add the oil. Whisk until smooth and then add the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Here’s How to Season to Taste.) Set aside.
Add the bread crumbs to a small sauté pan and place it over medium-low heat. Shaking the pan every minute or so, cook just until they’re golden, about 4 minutes. Set aside.
Drizzle the leaves with the amount of dressing you like — I use a bit more than 1 tablespoon per dozen. Now sprinkle them with the bread crumbs evenly over the leaves. Finish with a sprinkling of the red pepper flakes — I only use a small amount as it will add a lot of heat.
Garnish the platter with lemon slices and serve!