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For something different this summer, try a grilled salad with one of these lettuces

There are plenty of go-to grillables: chicken wings, thick steaks, chunky vegetables skewered with a kebab. But the smoke and char of this specific cooking method can do wonders for something less expected: lettuce.

Grilling lettuce completely transforms the watery, crunchy salad base into something more sumptuous. The heat of the grill wilts the insides slightly, charring the outer leaves and warming the stalk. I know, it sounds kind of weird, but there is something about the almost-bitter flavor that, especially when paired with a creamy dressing or a fresh squeeze of lemon, will make you think about a piece of romaine in a different way.

Romaine is the gateway choice here, a familiar vegetable with a sturdy structure that holds up well to grilling. But there is also radicchio and endive, two lettuces with a bite that can be tougher to embrace in their raw forms. Grill them, and they become a wild base for your new favorite kind of summer salad.

Here's how this works. First, prepare one of the three lettuce bases according to the recipes below. Let cool slightly. Then, use that to build one of these simple, grill-kissed salads. Each recipe serves 2 to 4 people.

easy

Grilled Romaine

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, tops and bottoms trimmed and the heads cut lengthwise into quarters

Instructions

  1. Build a fire in your grill, leaving one side free of coals. When coals are covered with gray ash and the temperature is medium, you are ready to cook. (For a gas grill, turn all burners to high, lower cover and heat for 15 minutes, then turn burners to medium.)
  2. Drizzle the olive oil over the quartered heads of lettuce. Lightly grill these directly over the hot coals for 15 to 20 seconds on each side, until they are lightly golden, then remove to the cool side of the grill. Remove lettuce to a platter.
Source: Adapted from the New York Times

Caesar-Like Salad

½ small red onion, thinly sliced

½ cup red wine vinegar

2 heads grilled romaine

½ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Caesar dressing, storebought or homemade

1 lemon, halved

In a bowl, combine onion and red wine vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes.

Place romaine on a plate. Top with cheese and season with salt and pepper. After 10 minutes, drain red onions and add to salad. Drizzle dressing over everything, then squeeze a lemon half on top.

Plum and Blue Cheese

¼ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt

Pepper

2 heads grilled romaine

3 plums, cut into chunks

⅓ cup toasted walnuts

⅓ cup blue cheese

In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and stir.

Place romaine on a plate. Top with plums, walnuts and blue cheese. Drizzle dressing over salad. Season salad with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

easy

Grilled Radicchio

Ingredients

  • 2 heads radicchio
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Quarter the radicchio heads lengthwise, leaving the cores intact. Brush the cut sides generously with some of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill and oil the grill rack.
  3. Place the radicchio, cut sides down, on the grill and cook, turning frequently, until browned and tender when pierced at the core with a knife, 8 to 12 minutes total. (Close the lid if using a gas grill.)
  4. Transfer the radicchio to a platter.
Source: Adapted from Williams-Sonoma.

Pancetta and Pesto

2 heads grilled radicchio

2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta (you can also use bacon, cooked and roughly chopped)

1 pear, thinly sliced

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler

Freshly ground pepper

Pesto, storebought or homemade

Place radicchio on a plate. Top with pancetta, pear, Parmesan and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle pesto over everything and serve.

Balsamic and Walnut

½ cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

2 heads grilled radicchio

¼ cup almonds, roughly chopped

½ cup crumbled goat cheese

Combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until vinegar has become thicker and not as runny.

Place radicchio on a plate. Top with almonds, goat cheese and balsamic reduction. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

easy

Grilled Endive

Ingredients

  • 6 red and white Belgian endives, halved lengthwise
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill and oil the grill rack.
  2. Brush the endive halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and just tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer the endives to a platter, tent with foil and let steam for 5 minutes.
Source: Adapted from Food and Wine

Roasted Vegetables

1 red pepper, cored and cut into medium-sized chunks

½ red onion, cut into medium-sized chunks

½ zucchini, cut into medium-sized chunks

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

6 grilled endives

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Place the peppers, onion and zucchini on a large piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the foil around the vegetables so it forms a packet, and crinkle the foil to seal.

Place on a hot grill and cook for about 15 minutes until vegetables are softened somewhat. Alternatively, cook in a 400-degree oven for the same amount of time. Remove packet from grill and open to release some of the heat.

Place endives on a plate. Add vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, top with Parmesan, vinegar and more olive oil to taste. Toss and serve.

Peach and Pecan

6 grilled endives

2 peaches, thinly sliced

4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese

⅓ cup pecans, roughly chopped

Balsamic vinaigrette, storebought or homemade

Salt

Pepper

Place endives on a plate. Top with peaches, mozzarella and pecans. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette to taste, season with salt and pepper and serve.

For something different this summer, try a grilled salad with one of these lettuces 07/17/17 [Last modified: Friday, July 14, 2017 2:49pm]
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© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

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