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 Grill Romaine Lettuce?
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. We do grill vegetables. 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.
How to Serve Grilled Romaine
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.
What is Romaine Lettuce?
Romaine is a variety of long-leafed lettuce that's crispy with a mild flavor. Great for cold salads (it's the sole lettuce in a traditional Caesar Salad), it's sturdy enough to hold up for a brief stint on the grill.
Its exact origins are unknown, but it's believed to come from somewhere in the Mediterranean—perhaps the Greek island of Cos, which could be why the British call it cos lettuce. Western Europe learned of its existence by way of Rome, hence why in the U.S. it's called romaine.
The Best Romaine Lettuce to Buy
This recipe calls for hearts of romaine, so you can buy either packaged hearts or whole heads of romaine. Remove the outer layer of leaves of a whole head and you'll easily find the heart, which is a little lighter in color with leaves somewhat tightly packed together.
When shopping for whole heads, look for heads with vibrant, dark green leaves that have some weight to them—that means they are nicely hydrated and fresh. Avoid heads where the leaves are visibly dry or have started to wilt or turn color. Look for hearts that are a vibrant light green with no dark spots or wilting.
How Long Should the Lettuce Be on the Grill?
Because the temperatures of grills can vary greatly, you'll need to keep an eye on the lettuce to determine when it's done. It should take fewer than 8 minutes. Take the romaine off the grill when all sides are lightly charred.
Serve grilled romaine right away. You can serve it whole, as is. The herbed vinaigrette will have flavored it nicely.
Or, you can sprinkle the whole hearts with Parmesan cheese. To be a little decadent, drizzle on blue cheese dressing and toss on some bacon crumbles.
You can also chop up the grilled romaine and use it as a base for a salad.
What to Serve With Grilled Romaine Lettuce
- Grilled Chicken With South Carolina Barbecue Sauce
- Grilled Salmon With Dill Butter
- Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad (use the grilled romaine in the recipe)
- Thousand Island Dressing
- Ranch Dressing
Grilled Romaine Lettuce
- 3 to 4 romaine hearts
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon 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 kosher salt
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
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.
Prepare your grill:
Turn your gas grill to high or get your charcoal coal grill very hot.
Prepare the vinaigrette:
Put the oil, vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk with a fork to combine. Paint the lettuce hearts all over with the vinaigrette.
Grill the lettuce:
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.