Grilling lettuce sounds pretty strange, I know. I thought the same thing until I tried it. There is something about grilling it that intensifies the flavors in the lettuce and takes lettuce from being just a bed or vehicle for other things to center stage. Now is the time to do it since lettuce, such as romaine, is now in season. The tables at all of the farmer’s markets are stacked high with the most beautiful lettuce right now. I bought my Romaine heads from Frog Holler Farm’s table at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market on Saturday.
My recipe calls for one other fantastic ingredient that is also in season now: sweet shelled peas. My husband and I grow them and they are one of those things that we truly enjoy fresh. It’s almost a delicacy, in my opinion. They take a fair amount of space to grow, need lots of water, and shelling the peas can be a bit time consuming, but we just can’t resist the sweet burst of flavor you get from a pea you just picked. Try to find them fresh for this recipe, if you can. Here is a link to a search I did on Real Time Farms about sweet peas. It’s a great way to find a food locally. I HIGHLY recommend you hunt down the fresh sweet peas. It’s so worth it!
Grilled Romaine and Radicchio Salad
To make this salad for four people you will need two heads of Romaine lettuce, two heads of radicchio lettuce, a red onion, two cups of blanched fresh shelled peas (frozen if you can’t find fresh) and a good hard cheese such as Piave or Parmesan Reggiano.
Start by making the marinade for the radicchio and then the buttermilk dressing.
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves (chopped finely)
- 1 teaspoon sage leaves (chopped finely)
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves (chopped finely)
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Peel of the outer most leaves from the heads and cut them in half through the stem. Wash them in cold water. Place the garlic, olive oil, rosemary, sage, thyme, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Add the radicchio and gently toss so that it is well coated. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoon minced red onion
- 2 teaspoon minced parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
While your radicchio is marinating and the dressing is chilling, you can preheat your grill for the lettuce. While the grill is preheating, peel off the outer leaves from the Romaine lettuce and cut the heads in half, through the stem. Wash well in cool water. Brush the lettuce with olive oil and sprinkle on a little salt and pepper. Place the radicchio and romaine halves on the hot grill, cut side down. Grill, turning with tongs, until the edges of the radicchio are crisp and almost beginning to look burnt and the romaine has browned wilted edges. Grilling time will be about 10-15 minutes.
When the lettuce is ready, remove it from the grill and chop up the radicchio. Place one half of each romaine head on a plate and top it with the chopped radicchio, sliced red onion, peas and shaved cheese. Dress with the buttermilk dressing.
After one bite you will wonder why you haven’t had this before. It’ll turn your “What the — ?!” into a “Why the — ?!”