Call me picky but I just don’t like romaine lettuce. Something about its crunchiness (I like iceberg even less) and bitter taste just turns me off. I’ll use it in a salad if I can hide it among a lot of loose salad greens and spinach, but I just can’t eat it on its own. Or at least I couldn’t, until I tried it cooked.
Yes, cooked. Grilled, to be specific. I got this great idea from Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave; in her recipe, the romaine is cooked on the barbecue grill, but since it’s January and I didn’t want to wait until summer to give it a try, I decided to see how it would taste grilled on a George Foreman grill. Truth be told, I don’t use my new removable plate grill as often as I should, so I’ve been looking for things to cook on it. As it turns out, it worked perfectly. Two halves of a romaine heart (the inside core of the head, often sold in packs of three) fit easily into the grill, bases placed at opposite ends. After just a few minutes of grilling, the romaine began to wilt and brown slightly and was done. I dressed each head simply with white balsamic vinegar and pepper, and added a sprinkling of sunflower seeds to accentuate the nuttiness that grilling brings out. It’s a simple preparation that’s made a romaine believer out of me. Plus, it’s a great way to enjoy a green salad on a cold day when the thought of iceberg just makes you go, “Brrrrr.”
Ridiculously Easy Grilled Romaine Salad
- 1 heart of romaine lettuce (about 170 grams)
- 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sunflower seeds
- freshly ground black pepper
Cut the romaine heart in half lengthwise. Trim the stem end a little, if you wish, but be sure not to cut too much–all the leaves need to stay attached.
Heat your George Foreman grill or a stove-top grill pan. Spray it lightly with olive oil, if necessary. (You know your grill–if you think it might stick, give it a quick spray.) Once it’s hot, put one romaine half on it, two if they will fit. Close the top of the Foreman grill or press the lettuce down lightly with a spatula if you are using a grill pan. Cook for about 2 or 3 minutes, until lettuce has begun to wilt and grill marks to appear; then, if you’re using a grill pan, turn over and grill for another 2 minutes.
Place on two plates, cut side up, and sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sunflower seeds, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve while still warm.