I was pampering my P.S. for Father’s Day but he was doing the actual grilling. The final side dish I made to go with the New York strip steaks was grilled romaine with a warm bacon and balsamic vinaigrette. I’d washed the romaine heart, trimmed the stalk end and cut it in half. It would just need a quick sear on the grill.
As I think I’ve said before, I don’t do grilling. I could maybe find the ‘On’ button if I have to, and do the grilling. It also might be edible, but that’s not guaranteed. I didn’t actually get the outdoor cooking badge in Girl Scouts all those years ago. I was content to be an indoor cook, away from bugs and weather.
I’ve usually been an iceberg lettuce gal, preferring the crunchy pieces in my salads or tacos. romaine is crunchy but also has some leaves that are kind of rubbery at times. But iceberg doesn’t cut in half as neatly as romaine so I went with it for the grilled salad. My P.S. likes romaine and leafy lettuce so we often have lettuce wars in the grocery store.
I started making the vinaigrette. I diced the bacon and fried it until it was browned and crispy, along with the diced shallots. When they were done I added the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients to the skillet and let it reduce down a bit.
When the vinaigrette was perfectly done I turned the heat to low and waited for the lettuce to get its time on the grill after the steaks were done. The kitchen was fragrant with the smell of bacon, shallots and balsamic vinegar in the dressing.
I rubbed the cut sides of the romaine hearts with a little oil and my P.S. seared them for a couple of minutes, just until there were nice marks up and down the slice. I thought he should have grilled them a little darker, but this was fine too. He removed them to a platter along with the Southwestern stuffed sweet potatoes that was our other side dish.
Being a salad fan, I tried the romaine first and decided it was my new favorite salad. Who’d have thought grilling lettuce would be so good? The bacon and balsamic dressing was a great touch. It had very strong flavors but you only use a couple of teaspoons drizzled on the romaine half.
It was fun to have such a tasty salad that had grilled flavors as well as retaining its crunch. I must make a note to have romaine hearts on hand more often when we grill. This was excellent! I have to admit the recipe also called for blue cheese crumbles on the lettuce which I totally forgot to buy. I’ll try that next time but it was totally great with my substitute of shaved Parmesan.
Grilled Romaine with Bacon Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely diced red onion (I used white shallots)
6 strips bacon; diced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 head romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (or shaved Parmesan)
Freshly cracked black pepper
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, the onion and bacon and cook until the bacon is crispy.
Add the balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and reduce for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn heat to low if waitinf for the lettuce to grill or remove from the heat and set aside.
Brush the romaine with the remaining tablespoon olive oil. Place on the grill cut-side down and quickly sear until grill marks are visible. Set aside.
For each serving, place a half head of romaine cut-side up on a plate and drizzle the balsamic dressing on top. Sprinkle with blue cheese and the bacon and onion, and garnish with cracked black pepper.
Adapted from Anna Shortcakes