Grilled Romaine Lettuce

One of the great things about being a food blogger is that it compels you to be somewhat adventurous in your food. If you had told me a few years ago that I would not only be happily eating grilled romaine lettuce, but encouraging others to do the same, I would have thought you were nuts. Why in the world would anyone want to grill lettuce? Lettuce just isn’t part of the grilling food group people! You know, burgers, ribs, beer can chicken. Grilled lettuce? Why that’s just… just pretentious, that’s what. Well the joke’s on me, and anyone who loves salad and also loves grilled things, but hasn’t tried to put them together. Lettuce is a vegetable, or at least we eat it like one. And we do grill vegetables. And they are good. It stands to reason that the vegetable we call lettuce, if endowed with enough structure, which romaine has, would also be good grilled. And it is!

That said, as much as I like it, my mom likes it, and my friends like it, you may not. But I do encourage you to try it, especially if you have some romaine hearts around. When you’re done with the grilling, you can either serve them whole (one romaine heart per person), or slice them crosswise, and toss them in a bowl for a grilled salad.

Grilled Romaine Lettuce Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3-4.

What are romaine hearts? Just the inner leaves of romaine lettuce that stay somewhat tightly together, not the outer leaves.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 romaine hearts
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Method

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1 Prep the romaine hearts—pull off any old leaves. Chop off the top 1 or 2 inches of the lettuce head, and shave off the browned part of the root end, leaving the root end intact so that the lettuce head stays together.

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2 Prepare your grill for high, direct heat. Paint the lettuce hearts all over with the vinaigrette. Prepare the vinaigrette. Put the oil, vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk with a fork to combine.

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3 Grill the romaine hearts until lightly browned on all sides, turning every minute or two until done.

Serve immediately. You can either serve the hearts whole, or chop them and toss them for a salad.

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21 Comments

  1. Mike G

    This is so good. And it doesn’t get wilted and soft. Eat your veggies!

  2. Tim Clark

    It’s also great to use the grilled romaine for Caesar salad. Parmesan takes on a whole new personality when it hits that smoky lettuce.

  3. Monty

    First reaction: Elise has lost her mind.
    After figuring that you haven’t lead me astray yet, I tried it. Yum Yum Thanks for the idea.

  4. Dave

    Hi Elise,
    I have done this many times and always love it. If i’m using a gas grill I usually add a scant drop or two of liquid smoke to the vinaigrette to get a smoky effect.

    Dave

  5. Marion Olson

    Somewhere this past winter I came up with a recipe for roasted Romaine and chicken breasts in the oven, painting the Romaine with olive oil and anchovies, and using seasoned breadcrumbs and Parmesan on the chicken. I like the idea of doing it on the grill and chopping it to make a salad.

    A few chopped anchovies in the olive oil on the hearts and grilling some thin-sliced peasant bread for croutons would be good, too. Adding grilled chicken breasts could turn this into a nifty summer salad meal.

    What great ideas! Thanks for sharing. ~Elise

  6. lolaphong

    I also recommend grilling Treviso–it’s bitter and a purplish red like radicchio, but shaped like a small compact head of romaine. It holds
    it shape up very well against the heat of the grill and I love the flavor with a simple vinegar based dressing.

    We have a grilled radicchio salad on the site which I love. Treviso is just like it. Great, isn’t it? ~Elise

  7. Diana

    We LOVE grilled romaine!!! Had it as a main salad dish several years ago at a little local restaurant in Colorado and have recreated it at home every since. We like to rub olive oil on the romaine, grill it then top with black beans, yellow corn, red onion, bacon, croutons and a Chipolte dressing. Delicious!

  8. The Culinary Chase

    I’ve been wanting to try this for a while now so thanks for sharing this. Cheers!

  9. Peter D. Albertson

    E–
    I live in a city apartment that doesn’t allow grills on my tiny deck. So I can’t grill. But I do the same thing in a hot pan until it browns. Even better is baby bok choy, sauteed in a hot cast iron pan with olive oil and a small amount of garlic. Delish!
    P

  10. Lisa S.

    I had this at a restaurant once. It was good. They charged $14 for this salad (for 1). I knew it wasn’t worth that price, but I wanted to try it. It’s good and different so make it! Your readers aren’t reading your blog for same-old, same-old. I might have to make this with the July 4th hamburger and hot dog fare to give the holiday meal a bit of class.

  11. Africanaussie

    oh my gosh that sounds so strange I will have to try it! I know there is a french recipe where lettuce leaves are cooked with green peas, I have never heard of barbecuing it though – gosh I love grilled vegetables.

  12. KimH

    We sliced ours down the middle making sure to keep the rib end intact. The last 2 years we couldnt get enough of them. They’re pretty yummy!

  13. Framed Cooks

    What a coincidence…this is on my dinner menu tonight! I ran across a recipe for grilled Caesar salad that involves grilling the lettuce, and now you’ve given me the confidence to go through with it! (And we’re tossing some steak on the grill as well…) :)

  14. Judy T

    Love grilled romaine! I also slice down the center because the vinaigrette gets between the leaves and has an even better taste. I use balsamic instead of red wine or cider vinegar.

  15. mantha

    Wow, that looks fantastic! I think I’d like to season with Herbes de Provence, and just work a few strips of mild pickled sweet red pepper into the center, like a stuffing.
    You have the best ideas!

  16. Traci

    FAB.U.LOUS!!! I don’t want un-grilled romaine salad EVER AGAIN!!! This was amazing! Thank you! I also grilled red peppers and red onions. I then tossed it all with capers, blue cheese and chopped pears in a champagne caper vinegarette. Doing it again tonight!

  17. Stephanie

    Only recently have I started seeing recipes for grilled lettuce and I admit that I thought it sounded crazy (at first). Now I am getting a little braver about trying it at home for myself. My husband is usually in charge of the grill so he may have to supervise while I grill our salad for dinner. I’m sure he will think the same thing at first – that I have lost my mind for putting lettuce on the grill! Hopefully the taste will sway him to let me try to grill more often.

  18. Helen

    How do u wash it if it’s kept whole ?

    The romaine hearts are closed, dirt doesn’t get in so you don’t have to wash inside. On the outside you can just rinse. ~Elise

  19. shermeals

    I tried this tonight on the grill and we loved it. I added some fresh parmesan since I just bought a piece. Wow! What a different and tasty side dish to have with whatever else you happen to be cooking on the grill. Thanks for posting this recipe which encouraged me to try grilling romaine.

  20. Nadea

    I must try grilled, or baked as it would be in my case, lettuce. In Hong Kong we eat it steamed instead of raw. It sounds disgusting and I must admit it took some getting used to, but it is ok, actually. I think it would be fun to experiment with seasonings to make it a little more exciting, like oyster sauce and black bean sauce and garlic and or ginger. That would definitely liven it up!

  21. IdaBaker

    My daughter belongs to a CSA and had a surplus of lettuce, and decided to try grilling it.

    She loved it.

    At the time, I had never heard of it.

    It’s good to know I’m not the only one who was a bit surprised by grilled lettuce. :)

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