If you’ve never grilled lettuce, I don’t blame you. A few years ago I too thought, “lettuce is so delicate, won’t it just burst into flames? I mean, I’ve proven how good I am at burning marshmallows.”
But I gave it a whirl anyways after hearing Bobby Flay say it was the simplest way to feel like a grill master. And he was right.
Because without an ounce of effort it turned lettuce into something so different, and so good. Hot and crisp, with browned ruffled edges. Tender on the inside, yet still some crunch to give. A drizzle of good olive oil, a splash of bright lemon, and a dusting of parmigiano reggiano. All of these things are what make it an Italian Grilled Romaine Salad, sealed with the signature, “bellisimo” fingertip kiss.
This technique is pretty much foolproof, but here are a few things to keep in mind, just to make sure:
- Most important: slice the head of lettuce VERTICALLY, think lengthwise. This keeps the leaves connected to the core, thus your leaves staying together, nice and firm.
- Make sure your grates are clean, and brush them with a little oil.
- Turn that grill up to medium high, no need to be shy. This will give the lettuce those beautiful sear marks and infuse a smokiness.
- Don’t forget the fresh lemon juice. This is key to making the natural flavors of the lettuce sing, and brightens the entire dish.
As a side note, this might just be the technique that turns your salad naysayers into believers. When I was filming this video with my talented friend Wale, him hustling with the camera while I brushed, grilled, and ate, the least I could do was offer him was the of result of our work. I offered, and he hesitated…. “I’ll try it, but I don’t like lettuce.”
He took one bite, sat silent, and then… “Okay, I guess I like lettuce”. Three days later he texted me a picture of grilled lettuce, the starter to the dinner he had made for his girl. I’ll take that as a win. Hope you enjoy it just as much, xo.
- 2 heads of fresh and firm romaine lettuce, cut vertically (you will have 4 halves)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt, divided
- black pepper
- one medium lemon, cut in half
- fresh parmesan cheese
- Make sure grates of grill are clean and turn to medium high.
- Brush lettuce halves liberally with 1½ tablespoons olive oil, cut side and back side. Then sprinkle each halve with some salt.
- Grill for 3 minutes, cut side down, pressing with your tongs to make sure the lettuce gets a good sear. Flip and grill for one or 2 more minutes.
- Remove from grill. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper, drizzle with remaining olive oil. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over each half. Top with a tablespoon of parmesan on each halve.