Sunday, July 11, 2010

Grilled romaine salad two ways

It's certainly greens season at our CSA! We are getting lots and lots of lettuce, and last week, we started getting kale, green onions, beets, and kohlrabi (kohlrabi is a weird vegetable, I don't really love the taste of it raw or cooked, but I love it pickled, have made a few batches using this recipe) ... some other stuff I'm forgetting too.

But anyway, grilling lettuce is really a nice twist on your standard salad. It gets a little smokey flavor to it and wilts a little, but is still crunchy. This makes it even easier to eat large quantities of lettuce, which is kind of necessary right now since we got 4 heads in the this week's delivery (and that's not counting the kale). It also requires using a knife, which I think is a good thing (as I recently noted.) When I say "hearts" of romaine, I mean to take off the outside layer or two of leaves - they are a little tougher, and usually a bit bruised and not as crunchy and falling off the head.

So here's two recipes, made the first a few nights ago, and had it with a pasta dish with sardines similar to what I wrote about here, minus the fennel and raisins, plus some kale. Made the second tonight, had it with the same leftover pasta.

Grilled romaine salad "Mediterranean" style - serves 2
1 heart of romaine lettuce
Olive oil
About 6 canned or jarred artichoke heart quarters
About 8 olives (nice ones, preferably, standard Kalamata do the trick)
About 2 ozs. fresh mozzarella, cut into small bite-sized pieces
1 tomato, chopped
1 T. red wine vinegar
Fresh ground pepper

1. Pre-heat the grill to medium or medium high.
2. Prepare the lettuce as described in the commentary, then slice the head in half, length-wise. If there is a lot of excess in the root area, cut some off, but be sure to leave enough so the half-head stays intact.
3. Rinse the lettuce, make sure the water goes in between the leaves. Gently fan out the leaves to some degree to make sure you get rid of the grit. Gently dry with a clean towel. It's okay if it's a little wet.
4. Brush the cut sides of the half-heads with olive oil.
5. Place on the grill, cut sides down, and grill for about 5 minutes. They should get a little wilted, and have grill marks on them. If some of the outer leaves get burned, that's fine, you can just get rid of them.
6. In the meantime, combine the artichokes, olives, cheese cubes, tomato, and vinegar in a small bowl. Given the oil on the lettuce and that came with the artichokes, I didn't feel it needed much more, but hit it with some more olive oil if you wish!
7. When the lettuce is done, top with the mixture and some fresh ground pepper. I think this is best served warm-room-temperature-ish.

Grilled romaine salad with roasted beets and goat cheese - serves 2

A handful of baby beets, or one larger beet (you may just want to roast as many as you have though and save them for something else!)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 heart of romaine lettuce
Goat cheese to taste
Optional: some toasted pine nuts or walnuts
Balsamic vinegar

1. Pre-heat the grill to medium or medium high.
2. Clean the beets and cut into bite sized pieces (slice in half if using baby beets).
3. Put the beets on a square of aluminum foil, and add olive oil, some salt and pepper. Fold the foil into a packet - not too tight, give the beets some room. Throw the packet on the grill. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, to whatever level of doneness you like.
4. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins.
5. Prepare and grill the lettuce as described above.
6. Top the grilled lettuce with the beets, crumbles of goat cheese, and possibly some nuts or croutons. Splash on some balsamic vinegar right before serving, and some more olive oil if you desire.

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