Grilled salad may sound a bit weird. Like the vegetable adoration trend taken a bit too far.
If you’ve never tasted grilled salad at a restaurant (and I just recently had one at the fabulous Cape Sea Grille that made me a believer yet again), you may wonder if we’re all just getting a bit too carried away.
[Here’s my version with some homemade bacon, cherry tomatoes from the garden, basil tips and shaved parmesan.]
The truth is that grilling salad greens, like romaine hearts, transforms the familiar into something far out. A smokey, slightly steamed and still crisp palette for your all of your salad creativity.
Is there anything that isn’t better grilled?
And since you’re probably already planning on grilling this Labor Day Weekend, why not make ultimate use of your grill once you’ve fired it up?
Here’s a quick how-to:
- Find a lovely head of romaine. (I only wish I had grown this. It’s from Backyard Gardens.)
2. Trim the root end but keep the core intact. Cut the head in half from root to leaf tops.
3. If the heads are large, cut again into quarters, then wash thorough and drain well. Some of the outer leaves will fall off, so set them aside for your next fresh salad.
4. Brush the lettuce lightly with extra-virgin olive oil (or your favorite cooking oil) and salt it sparingly (optional).
5. Preheat your grill (gas or charcoal) to medium-high heat. Place the cut side down first and aim the core over the hottest part of the grill. (The cooked core is my favorite part!)
6. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the leaves begin to blacken, then turn with tongs and repeat on all sides.
Next customize your grilled salad:
As a plus, you can grill other veggies to go with your salad, such as Walla Walla sweet onions, red peppers or some of that extra zucchini you probably have on hand.
Then compose your salad with some of this and that: bacon, crumbled feta or goat cheese, olives, pickled green beans… Let your mood–and the contents of your fridge–be your guide.
I love to use grilled hearts of romaine as a base for grilled salmon or steak. But it is also entirely enjoyable on its own.
The only compulsory accompaniment is an excellent dressing, like the hot tomato vinaigrette in this recipe of mine from Pure Beef, or an avocado lime dressing from Thug Kitchen (parental advisory: foul language abounds) or a good old creamy Caesar dressing.
And if none of those ideas strike your fancy, here are 1,000+ ideas for grilled romaine lettuce salads on Pinterest. Yup, it’s officially a thing.
Celebrate the end of summer and grill something totally new while you still can. Cheers!