Broiled Caesar, Mushroom Toasts, Commencement 2020

Good morning! Hope you are all healthy and staying somewhat sane. Yesterday I decided I needed a day of nonstop productivity. I know we’re supposed to be giving ourselves more leeway on things and practicing self-care and all that, but after living with myself for this many decades, I know that manic bursts of getting sh*t done is my most effective form of self-care. I dealt with two things that had been sitting on my to-do list for way too long, prepared for an interview I’m doing today, wrapped up two freelance jobs (one small, one large), and in between went for a short run. In other news: Phoebe made a batch of World Peace cookies yesterday and they were insane. That will serve as today’s “Project” because I have two “Pantry” recipes for you below…have a great day, even if it means taking three naps.

Pantry: Broiled Caesar

I’ve always been wary of searing or blasting conventional salad greens, but yesterday, when I found myself staring at a depressingly boring plastic bag of three romaine hearts I remembered Eric Ripert’s post on instagram. He “basted” romaine hearts (cut horizontally, like above) with a Caesar-like dressing (this is the one I used) then sprinkled a few tablespoons of Parm on top before broiling for 5 minutes. You can watch his video for more detailed instructions, but it really is that easy. I served it with extra dressing (and some roast chicken 🙂 ).

Pantry: Mushroom Toasts

Does it make me a certain kind of woman that I have come to look forward to surprising my husband with a hot lunch while he’s working? Or is it just an another example where Act of Love = Self-Care? Does it matter? Yesterday’s surprise was this mushroom toast. We had a container of mixed mushrooms (maitake, shiitake, enoki) but you can use any kind. Chop them finely — stems and all — then saute in garlic-infused olive oil until they are crispy and have lost most of their moisture. Then add a tablespoon or two of chopped red onion, plus salt and pepper, to the pan, cook for another few minutes. Toss in a bowl with a few dashes of sherry or red wine vinegar. (Just a teaspoon probably will do. Taste it as you go.) Sprinkle two slices of bread with Parm then broil until cheese has melted and crusts are golden. Top with mushrooms and chives or any fresh herb. Makes two toasts.

Purpose: Dear Class of 2020

Guys, I think Barack Obama reads my blog. How else do you explain his decision to deliver a commencement speech to the entire class of 2020 along with Michelle only the day after I mentioned how depressed I was to miss my senior’s graduation? Not kidding that this was the best news I’ve gotten all week. It’s a one-hour special airing on every major network, and you can find more information here. Mark your calendars: Saturday, May 16, 8:00pm ET/PT, 7:00 CT/MT. We are going to make a day of it.

Stay safe, stay home.

The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, and connected. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your daily routine is, and especially how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at

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I have seen both the June 6 date AND a May 16 date…I must admit I am confused as to when the actual commencement speech will be delivered. I do not have a senior this year (will be riding that ride next year) but I do teach seniors and want to be sure I do not miss that speech!


Yes, thank you Sara and Susan for looking into this. I’ve fixed the info in my post. We do NOT want to miss it.

Allie Alperovich

You inspired me to make this for lunch (have had a package of romaine that was looking sad) … but just did it with a thick mustardy salad dressing with shallots and lots of cheese (didn’t have time to make something with mayo). It was amazing.


Hooray Barack and Michelle!

I have been grilling Caesars for awhile, can’t remember where I first got the idea (wasn’t mine, I assure you). Will try the broil method. But here’s what WAS my idea: topping it Sam Sifton’s Anchovy Breadcrumbs! which I discovered here:
I cannot tell you how great the breadcrumb texture is with the fork-and-knife crunch/wilt of the grilled Caesar, and it’s already flavor profile matched for the occasion. I now keep a batch in the fridge to top all kinds of things that need a boost!


Grilling romaine hearts is the best– a little olive oil on the halves and then grill two minutes as you finish your steak, chicken, etc…. Also, in honor of getting sh** done, and your interest in running, we just watched the best short movie on YouTube: “A Mile an Hour: Running a Different Kind of Marathon.” Highly recommend!


Hi Jenny! Would you please write a post about your Baldor’s order? I ordered from them a couple weeks ago, and my family is still teasing me about the 20 pounds of Cavatappi hogging our pantry space. Baldor’s was fresh, safe & timely, but I’m curious what other families are ordering to reach the $250 minimum (without putting 48-count avocados in the cart)…..I live in Boston with 3 hungry teens 🙂


I’ve gotten a few requests for this, but I don’t think my order would be very helpful because I purchase a bunch of things I need for recipe testing, not necessarily just for surviving a week of dinners. I do find they’ve gotten much better about the quantity issue just in the past few weeks. (Did you see? You can buy 2-packs and 3-packs of avocados?) On the other hand, there will definitely be a widely distributed covid-19 vaccine before I get through the 1-gallon jar of Hellmann’s that arrived last week. 🙂