Have you ever grilled romaine lettuce? I hadn't until about a month ago; the thought had never even crossed my mind. I saw the idea on an episode of Mad Hungry and was immediately intrigued. The recipe that was made on the show was for a grilled Caesar salad, which I wound up making a few weeks later and absolutely loved - highly recommended. (It never made the blog, mainly because I've found it nearly impossible to photograph a head of romaine lettuce in a pleasing way. I'm sure it's possible, but the skill eludes me...) Anyway, when my issue of Food Network magazine arrived this month I was pretty psyched to see another grilled romaine recipe highlighted. Even better, it featured three of my favorite things - bacon, red onion and balsamic vinegar. It's quick, simple and really delicious! As I mentioned the other day, I'm not a blue cheese fan, so I subbed goat cheese but use whatever works for you.
With Memorial Day weekend just around the corner, and the unofficial start of grilling season as well, I think this salad would be a welcome and unique addition to any cookout. I don't see any reason you couldn't prep the onions and bacon ahead of time then just throw the lettuce on the grill along with the burger, dogs or whatever else is on your menu.
Grilled Romaine with Blue Cheese-Bacon Vinaigrette
adapted from Food Network Magazine, June 2011
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 heads romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (I used goat cheese instead)
Preheat grill to medium-high (you could also use an indoor grill pan).
In a large skillet set over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Remove to the plate along with the bacon. Add the balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the skillet and cook to reduce slightly, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
Brush the lettuce with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Grill cut-side down for about 2 minutes, or until grill marks are visible or the lettuce is slightly charred.
Place the lettuce cut-side up on a large plate (or platter). Drizzle with the reduced balsamic vinegar then sprinkle with the cheese, bacon and onion, and garnish with freshly cracked black pepper.