When I think about lettuce, I usually think of salad. And when I think of salad, I don’t usually think about throwing one of those bad boys on the grill. But it turns out that grilling romaine lettuce is more than just possible—it’s delicious. The smoky aroma and lightly charred taste takes eating lettuce from chore to summertime treat.
Even if you’ve never considered this technique before, you’re only six steps away from becoming a lettuce grill master.
How to Make Grilled Romaine Lettuce:
1. Get one head of romaine lettuce for every two people you’re planning to serve. Remove the outer layer of leaves.
2. Use a knife to shave off the very bottom of the solid browned base. Then slice the heads down the middle long ways so that the leaves stay connected at the base.
3. Rinse the lettuce and dry it thoroughly.
4. Drizzle the romaine hearts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Place the sliced romaine cut-side down on a pre-heated gas or charcoal grill and cook over medium high heat until the leaves are slightly wilted and charred (about five minutes). It’s up to the chef whether you’d like to flip the heads over halfway through cooking, but if you do, tongs come in handy.
6. Remove with tongs to a serving platter and squeeze fresh lemon juice over top. Add whatever other dressing and/or toppings you like, or keep it simple with just the lemon, or maybe a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
OXO 16-Inch Locking Stainless Steel Tongs, $15 from Sur La Table
Ideal for flipping your food on the grill.
Tip: When the weather’s rotten—of if you don’t have a grill—you can also make a version of grilled romaine hearts in a cast iron grill pan, or on an indoor electric grill.
Grilled Romaine Recipes
Here are 10 recipes to inspire your next green barbecue.
If a simple Caesar dressing suits your fancy, this recipe is for you. All you need to do is whisk together six ingredients, then drizzle the mixture over the sliced heads when they come off the grill, plus a sprinkle of shaved parmesan. Add some grilled chicken breasts for a new take on the classic combo with a nice smoky flavor. Get the Grilled Romaine Hearts with Caesar Vinaigrette recipe.
This recipe is a variation on bruschetta that uses lettuce in place of bread. As with the prior recipe, there’s no cooking required for the topping—just some quick and easy chopping and mixing. Get the Grilled Romaine with Tomato and Basil recipe.
This dish adds two more summertime veggies into the mix and ties everything together with a miso dressing. Get the Grilled Romaine Salad with Corn and Avocado recipe.
Here’s one for the bacon lovers! This recipe also features a creamy dressing that uses both lemon juice and lemon zest. Get the Grilled Romaine Lettuce with Bacon and Parmesan recipe.
Want to up the bacon factor even more? On top of sprinkling bacon on the finished product, this approach suggests using bacon fat in place of olive oil to baste the lettuce. (But since the dish is mostly leaves, it still counts as healthy, right?) Dress your bacon-grilled lettuce with a balsamic vinaigrette mixed with dried thyme, parsley, oregano, and a touch of Dijon mustard. Get the Grilled Romaine Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese recipe.
While your grill is heating up, turn to your oven to roast some tomatoes and chickpeas seasoned with cumin and paprika. Then dress your lettuce with this veggie blend and a tahini-chive dressing. Get the Grilled Romaine Salad with Roasted Chickpeas and Tomatoes recipe.
You can always count on fruit to take your summertime salad game to a new level. Beyond the fruits and cheeses, this dish is garnished with walnuts and a honey balsamic vinaigrette. Get the Grilled Romaine Hearts with Figs, Pear, and Manchego recipe.
Move over, sundaes. This medley of unexpected flavors may redefine your image of the “cherry on top!” Get the Grilled Romaine Salad with Cherries, Feta, and Roasted Pine Nuts recipe.
Though they don’t get top billing, this recipe also features asparagus and red onion, which you can cook on the grill right beside your lettuce. Get the Grilled Romaine Salad with Strawberries and Fennel Vinaigrette recipe.
Could you imagine anything more summery? Get the Grilled Romaine Salad with Blueberry, Avocado, and Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette recipe.
Header image courtesy of John E. Kelly / Photodisc / Getty Images