Sunday, August 11, 2013

Grilled Romaine Salad with Pan Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

One of the things I love about traveling is discovering new foods and recipes. My recent trip to California yielded more than just a nice contest win.  It also provided me with a recipe discovery that I am now addicted to.

This trip I finally had to break down and eat a grilled romaine salad.  I was starving, it was served to me, I ate it and loved it.   For some reason this dish never really appealed to me, so I've always taken a pass on it.  I've seen it on menus and on the internet, but I never really felt the desire to try one. I had no idea what I was missing.

If you love grilled salads and have been eating them for years, I have to ask you why you didn't tell me how good they are?  I thought we were friends!  Friends tell each other these things! So, if you have been passing on them too, I am here to tell you that while you have your grill fired up this summer, go ahead and throw a little romaine on there.  You can thank me later.

Grilled Romaine Salad with Pan Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

Tomato Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons light olive oil or vegetable oil
About a cup of grape tomatoes (16 or so), cut in half
1 small shallot, thinly sliced then chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme

Pour light olive or vegetable oil into a small non-stick frying pan over a medium high heat.  When the oil is hot add the tomatoes, turning them cut side down.  Cook for approximately 2 minutes or until they are beginning to soften and turn brown.

Add the shallot and stir.  Cook for an additional 2 minutes or until the shallot begins to soften.  Add the crushed garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, stirring frequently to keep the garlic from burning. Add the salt and pepper, stir well to coat and remove from the heat.

Immediately stir in the extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, mustard, water, basil and thyme.  Stir well and set aside to cool.  Dressing is best served at room temperature.

Grilled Romaine:
1 small - medium head of romaine lettuce
1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat an outdoor grill to high or indoor grill pan to medium high.

Remove outside leaves from romaine, trim the root end of all brown discoloration and cut any brown or dry ends from the tops.  At this point you can either leave the lettuce whole or cut it in half lengthwise (if it is left whole it will be crisper after grilling).  Either way, drizzle the outsides with the oil. Spread oil evenly over the lettuce with a brush or your fingers.  Sprinkle exposed areas with salt and pepper.

Place lettuce on the preheated cooking surface.  Cook for 1 - 2 minutes. Turn and repeat every 1 - 2 minutes or until there are dark brown grill marks on all sides.  Remove and transfer to a serving plate.

If lettuce was left in tact to grill, cut in half at this point.  Top each half with half of the Pan Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette, and chopped bacon and Parmesan shavings if desired.  Serve immediately.

Serves 2

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