An internet search for “grilled romaine” will yield many variations on this basic grilled lettuce. This is my favorite iteration on a theme for a grilled salad to complete an entirely grilled summer meal. The task of personalization for this common dish is in the dressing and accompaniments.
I like to serve it with a slightly tart Bourbon glazed rack of baby back pork ribs with a bright yellow cob of mellow, sweet corn. The Balsamic Bacon dressing adds a touch of saltiness that reminds me of the ocean and brings all the flavors to a heightened sensation that is quite pleasing to the palate.
When serving this salad, I find it best to do it at the last minute, after everything else is cooked. If you have help, someone else can even be plating the dinner while you finish the salad. Once added to the plate, serve and enjoy!
It’s simple to prepare and makes a wonderful chopped, chilled salad as leftovers the next day if there are any leftovers. Another variation is to add any leftover, chilled, grilled vegetables to the chopped lettuce along with shredded BBQ beef or chicken. Ok, the variations are probably limitless!
Grilled Romaine Salad
2 – 3 heads romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise
4-5 Tbs. of olive oil
Half of one medium sized red onion, diced
½ pound of bacon, chopped into bacon bits
1/3- ½ cup crumbled Roquefort cheese
(You can substitute feta, gorgonzola or bleu cheese if you prefer)
½ cup good quality Balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
(Do NOT use salt because the cheese crumbles and bacon are salty enough!)
Preheat the grill, for about 10 minutes, to high heat.
When the grill is hot and ready, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pan. Add the chopped onions and stir to coat them. Next, carefully add the bacon, being cautious of splatters, and cook together until the bacon is crispy and the onion is translucent and browning.
Very carefully, and slowly, pour in the Balsamic vinegar (splatters may occur) and another tablespoon of olive oil. Stir slowly to combine this mixture. It will be close to finished when the aroma begins to bowl you over.
Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Be attentive to the pan handle and be sure it is safely out of the way. Bacon grease splatters can leave terrible burns.
Brush the halved romaine lettuce with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place each half on the grill with the cut side facing downward, and quickly sear the lettuce. Turn and quickly sear the other side. Remove from heat as soon as grill marks and mild wilting occur.
Serve the lettuce with the cut side facing up, and drizzle the Balsamic-Bacon dressing over the lettuce filling the nooks and crannies with salty goodness. Sprinkle with the Roquefort cheese and add a few twists of fresh ground black pepper.