By Marsha Fottler –
It’s grilling season all over America and it’s also the season for fresh local farm-stand produce and fruits, meaning there are more good things to put on your gas or wood-fire grill than steaks and burgers. There’s salad! Last week at a local restaurant in my town, I saw a special for grilled Romaine salad. I ordered it and it was so delicious, I’m vowing to grill up salads at my house all summer long. You should too.
Basically, you start with a dense and substantial kind of lettuce such as Romaine or a wedge of iceberg. You could also use bok choy or some of the Asian cabbage varieties. To make salad for four, rinse and pat dry two heads of Romaine lettuce. Cut the two heads in half lengthwise. Brush surface with olive oil and grill on medium-low heat about 2 to 4 minutes total, turning occasionally. Remove to a warm plate and start building your salad.
For example, if you want a Greek grilled salad add to your grilled Romaine chopped cucumber, kalamata olives, feta cheese crumbles, thin slices of red onion and a vinaigrette made with lemon juice. Add a skewer of four marinated and grilled shrimp and you’ve got a lovely summer dinner. Serve with a baguette and herb butter and a glass of lemonade or slightly chilled white wine.
Once you get the lettuce grilled and on the plate, you can compose original Mexican salads, Italian versions, spanish and Asian ones too. You could even grill some of the vegetables to add to the salad. Eggplant, corn, pineapple, yellow or red bell peppers, tomatoes, you name it. There’s a whole culinary world of grilled salads out there and if you haven’t explored the possibilities, now is definitely the time. When friends ask what’s on your grill for dinner, you can proudly tell them, a lot of lettuce.
From Thug Kitchen, here’s a recipe from start to finish:
Grilled Romaine Hearts with Avocado Lime Dressing
2 romaine hearts, washed, trimmed, and sliced in half
1 clove of garlic, chopped up all small
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
Avocado Lime Dressing
1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped all small
½ teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup water
Salt to taste
For the dressing, put all the ingredients in a small food processor or blender and combine until creamy. Add the pinch of sea salt and mix it in. Pour into a small container and refrigerate until the lettuce is ready.
To grill the romaine hearts, heat the grill to a medium-low heat. While the grill heats up, mix the garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper in a little cup. Brush or spoon the oil mixture to the cut side of the lettuce. Place the lettuce face down on the grill fora minute or so or until there are clear grill marks and the leaves are beginning to wilt. Flip the hearts over and grill the other side for another minute or two. You want the leaves to look charred but not completely limp. When they look good, put them on a plate and put some dressing over the hearts. Top with sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, and plenty of black pepper.