When you think about eating a salad, you probably envision cold, crisp lettuce in a bowl brimming with fresh vegetables. But have you ever cooked your greens on the barbecue? At Nook Kitchen, Executive Chef Nick LaRosa grills up a warm romaine salad and it’s hearty enough to serve with a steak knife.
“I put everything in there that I like to eat – bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers and hard boiled eggs,” he says of the recipe. Customers sometimes add poached shrimp, grilled chicken or a short rib. “That’s a serious salad.”
If making at home, LaRosa urges you to be creative and use ingredients that you enjoy. “You can add legumes, beans or rice... If you don’t like rosemary, use some other kind of herb, like basil. Some people like to use grapeseed or avocado oil,” he says. “A recipe should give you a guideline, but you can improvise.”
An important tip: Make sure the grill is “really, really hot” and don’t cook the romaine for too long. “You just want to char the outside,” LaRosa says.
Grilled Romaine Salad
4 romaine hearts, rinsed and cut in half lengthwise
1 cucumber, seeds removed and ¼ inch diced
12 oz. container, grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
Olive oil, salt and pepper
8 strips thick cut bacon, cut into 1 inch strips and fried until crispy
8 oz. Gorgonzola crumbles
Red wine vinaigrette – recipe follows (or your favorite dressing)
Drizzle olive oil on the flat sides of the romaine hearts and season with salt and pepper. Place the hearts on a very hot grill, flat side down. Do not grill both sides. Remove from grill when you have nice grill marks – how long it takes to sear depends on how hot your grill is. Very hot grill =1 minute or less. Cold grill: Grab another drink and wait until your grill gets hot . Arrange two romaine pieces crossed on a plate and build your salad with remaining ingredients. Serve with a steak knife.
Red wine vinaigrette
¾ cup red wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 ½ tbsp. honey
1 ½ tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
½ tbsp. garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a blender except the oil. While the blender is running, slowly add the oil to emulsify. Turn off blender, taste and season with salt and pepper.
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