When you order a Caesar salad, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. Crisp romaine lettuce. Crunchy croutons. Creamy, garlicky dressing that’s heavy on the black pepper. Salty and savory parmesan cheese, and lots of it. It’s delicious, but it’s been done before.

It’s hard to improve on a classic, but sometimes it’s fun to try. On National Caesar Salad Day, which happens to also fall on July 4th, celebrate with one of these unique takes on Caesar salad.

Grilled Caesar Salad

Since you’re already heating up the grill for July 4th, you might as well cook your Caesar salad on it too. Cooked lettuce might sound unappealing, but when you cook it on the grill, it adds a smoky char while maintaining a fresh crunch. For grilled Caesar, romaine works best. Simply halve or quarter heads or hearts of romaine, then pop it on the grill for just a minute until it’s lightly charred. While you’re at it, throw some tomatoes, chunks of crusty, olive oil brushed bread, and marinated chicken breasts to round out your dressing. Sometimes I’ll even grill cloves of garlic for the dressing, which adds another layer of smokiness. Try this recipe for grilled chicken Caesar salad served with a healthy yogurt based dressing.

Southwest Caesar Salad

Although Caesar salad is associated with Italian-American food, it goes surprisingly well with southwest flavors. I like to add a little chili powder to bottled Caesar salad dressing for a spicy kick! Instead of parmesan, use sharp cheddar, feta or queso fresco, then top your southwest Caesar with avocado, black beans and crushed tortilla chips for crunch. This recipe uses seared flank steak for protein and lots of cilantro to keep it fresh.

Vegan Caesar Salad

In traditional Caesar salad, anchovies, a mayonnaise based dressing, and parmesan cheese are essential ingredients. While it’s not exactly the same, it is possible to replicate some of the classic Caesar flavor with vegan ingredients. Some recipes use pureed, soaked cashews or almonds for a rich, creamy dressing. You can also blend in olives or capers into your dressing to replace the brininess of olives. Or, try this recipe for vegan Caesar salad, which uses nori. Nutritional yeast, which has a cheesy flavor, helps replace parmesan.

Kale Caesar Salad

Turn traditional Caesar salad into a make ahead lunch by swapping romaine for kale! Because it’s a sturdy green that won’t wilt, you can mix and dress your salad in advance. Keep it refrigerated until ready to eat. I like to pack my kale Caesar salad in mason jars with a bit of dressing at the bottom.

Caesar Salad Pizza

Pizza salad is a thing. Make a simple pizza topped with olive oil, mozzarella and garlic and use it as a base for crunchy and fresh Caesar salad. Think of it as a giant crouton!

What unique spin on Caesar salad are you most excited to try? Let us know in the comments section!

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