Is grilling lettuce a thing?
Grilled romaine lettuce? Grilled romaine SALAD?! Sounds nuts right? I thought the same thing, but decided to try it anyway. I was ridiculed soundly by friends and family who thought this was some sort of joke. I took the ribbing while doing the prep, cooking the lettuce and even plating. Then I handed out the forks to those around the fire and the only sound was the charred yet crisp lettuce being crunched by suddenly mute mockers.
Why would you grill lettuce?
Romaine lettuce has some natural sugars inside that are not released by simply slathering it with caesar dressing. It is only released with heat. High heat. Like molten lava heat. Combine those sugars with something so simple as grated cheese and the resulting combination is as wonderful as it is off the wall. Also, the charred outside paired with the cool, crisp inside has an amazing texture and mouth feel. It’s also extremely easy. The time it takes for your steak to rest is plenty of time to make grilled romaine salad.
Grilled Romaine Lettuce Ingredients:
2 heads of Romaine lettuce, the leafy outer leaves removed and sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp olive oil
Course salt and fresh cracked pepper
2 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/2 cup of fresh grated Romano cheese (any hard grated cheese could be used like Asiago or parmesian)
How to prepare grilled romaine
Prep and cooking is even easier than compiling the ingredients. First, remove the outer leafy leaves as they will get wilted before the rest of the lettuce picks up a nice char:
With the outer leaves removed, the lettuce look like giant hearts of romaine:
Rinse the heads of lettuce under cold water:
Now place the Romaine on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel. Then cut the heads of Romaine in half lengthwise:
Now time for the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Always lay the flat side down first when doing this. That way you apply these ingredients on the flat side last and thus it will be facing up and not flat on the cutting board which is where all the oil, garlic, salt and black pepper will stick and require a second coating. I didn’t get shots of them being applied to the curved side first, so in these pictures I have skipped ahead. First drizzle the olive oil:
Then dust the halved heads of Romaine with the granulated garlic and sprinkle with coarse salt and fresh cracked black pepper:
Again, apply the oil, garlic, pepper and salt to the curved side first and then repeat for the flat side.
***Editor’s Note ~ Here are two of my other favorite side dishes – Baked Potatoes on the Grill (and no, I don’t use foil. No smoke if the taters are foiled), and My Spin on Oklahoma Joe’s Smoked Beans***
How do you cook fresh romaine lettuce?
You need to get those coals lava hot. Don’t try this on a kinda hot fire. It has to be raging hot. Once the fire is lit, remember this is a quick process, so don’t go to the bathroom or refill your drink once you start.
Place the half heads of Romaine right over a hot fire flat side down:
This only takes a couple of minutes so keep checking the underside. Look for the lettuce to blacken a bit. A nice char is the desired result without having the lettuce wilt too much under the heat:
Notice how I have them not quite flipped over. With one side being rounded, in order to get an even char all the way around, I have to char them in three phases with the curved side getting a sear on two sides, almost like a triangle.
During the cooking process, some of the leaves you cut through are going to pull away from the head like so:
Once all the grilled Romaine lettuce heads are charred evenly they should look similar to this:
Grilled romaine toppings
You can plate this a couple of ways. You can remove from the grill, lop off the bottom inch or two (where sediment can build up even if you wash well) and put into a bowl where you add the grated cheese and toss. The other option is to serve the grilled romaine halves individually as I did here, adding the cheese as soon as it hits the platter for optimal melting:
On the table and ready to serve:
Perfect with a grilled steak
Grilled romaine salad my be the perfect side to go with a grilled steak. Once the steak is pulled off to rest, throw the lettuce on. The steak, depending on thickness, should be perfectly rested when your grilled salad is ready to be plated. And if you skipped the cheese and and salt and went with a warm bacon vinaigrette, it would be paleo on top of being gluten free!
We have developed a few more grilled salad recipes.
If you have any questions about the above dish please feel free to comment below or email me.
Grilled Romaine Lettuce
- 2 head Romaine lettuce leafy outer leaves removed and sliced lengthwise
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
- ½ cup Romano cheese fresh grated (Any hard grated cheese could be used like Asiago or Parmesan)
- course salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Remove the leafy outer leaves of each head of romaine
- Rinse the heads under cold water
- Slice down the center lengthwise
- Place flat side down and drizzle with olive oil and dust with granulated garlic, salt and black pepper
- Flip over and repeat the step above
- Prepare the grill for high heat grilling
- Place the half heads of romaine flat side down over the coals
- Once the flat side has a nice blackened char (about 2-3 minutes depending on the heat of the grill) flip over and sear one side of the curved side
- After another 2-3 minutes rotate to char the other half of the curved side of the half head of romaine
- Remove any leafs that come loose during the cooking process
- Once the flat side and the curved side are charred, remove from the heat, place on a platter and sprinkle the grated cheese on the lettuce
- Serve immediately
Here’s a nice collage of the process: