When you’re in the mood for food with attitude, you need this salad!
Who knows, it might even convince the tough guy at your table that salad can be great – and you can get him to grill the lettuce! Grill the lettuce..? Yes! Hearty romaine + grill = über flavour.
With a light brush of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt & pepper, use a grill pan, outdoor grill – whatever you can get your hands on. Just be sure to have the dressing ready beforehand. It’s a quick couple of minutes for the cooking… and it’s very easily overdone. Season and grill the cut side first. Season the second, carefully turning it over to cook for another couple of minutes.
What else would you top a hearty, grilled lettuce with…? This dressing that packs a wallop of flavour! Buttermilk, sour cream, garlic & fresh herbs, it’s the perfect topper for romaine lettuce – whether it’s grilled or not.
Something wonderful happens when you cook romaine – I only wish I could explain the science. It’s probably much like when you heat cucumbers, and some kind of kitchen alchemy takes over. Years ago I had a pasta dish with cooked cucumbers that was, frankly, delicious. More recently when my niece Molli and I were making pizza together, she used sliced cucumbers as a topping – and they were fantastic. “Just because,” was her response when I asked why.
Lesson to Aunt Joanne: it’s good to think outside the box!
Such is the case with grilling lettuce! Do remove some of the harsher outer leaves. You could also trim the ends if you want; I chose to leave it for the presentation. Once trimmed, cut carefully in half lengthwise, leaving enough of the root end to hold the pieces together. You could always make this really easy on yourself – buy romaine hearts!
ps The tomatoes were to add a bit of colour. Red pepper would also be nice.
- 1 small head romaine, trimmed and cut in half horizontally
- Extra virgin olive oil, for grilling
- Sprinkle Kosher salt
- Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, well shaken
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- *Optional: diced fresh tomato or red pepper, for garnish
- Combine all ingredients in medium sized bowl, whisking to combine. Taste for seasoning, adding a little more salt, pepper, a splash more vinegar - to suit your taste. Best if chilled a least a half hour before using.
- Heat your grill/grill pan to medium. Brush the cut side of romaine with olive oil, and season with a pinch of salt & pepper. Place on grill cut side down and cook for 2 - 3 minutes, until grill marks form.
- Brush top with oil, season with salt & pepper and turn lettuce over carefully, using tongs (or a spatula.) Cook for a couple minutes more; you really just want it somewhat wilted, and to still have some structure.
- Remove cooked lettuce to a nice serving plate, dollop dressing over, serving extra on the side. Garnish with chopped tomato or red pepper if desired.
- *Extra dressing will keep well for a few days, covered in the fridge.