Grilled Romaine with Blue Cheese

Lettuces are at their peak. Delicious in salads, of course, but mysteriously good, too, kissed quickly by heat. Halve and grill them on the barbecue, on a stove-top grill pan, or even on a hot well-seasoned cast-iron pan. It only takes minutes – what you’re aiming for is a range of color and flavors, from outer char to still crisp interiors. Drizzle the lettuces, sliced up a bit if you like, with olive oil, vinegar and seasonings. Or, for a new take on wedge salad with blue cheese, try this.

Grilled Romaine with Blue Cheese

2 romaine lettuces (or other firm compact lettuce heads)
2 Tbs. olive oil
sea salt
Blue cheese dressing:
2oz (1/2 cup) roughly crumbled blue cheese, such as Great Hill Blue from Olio di Melli
1 tsp. finely minced scallion, spring onion or mild green garlic (white parts only)
½ cup sour cream
1 ½ Tbs. mayonnaise
1 tsp. lemon juice
4 Tbs. or so milk

For the dressing: Put half the cheese, crumbled, with remaining ingredients in a blender – all except the milk and salt. Use a couple of tablespoons of milk to dilute the sour cream left clinging to the measuring cup and add that to the blender, too. Pulse repeatedly to make a very smooth creamy dressing. Add salt and more milk as needed. You want it light enough to drizzle. Keep remaining cheese to strew over the lettuce in distinct chunks, rather than mixing it all into the dressing. Refrigerate if you make this ahead of time.

To grill lettuce: trim lettuce heads, keeping enough stem to hold lettuces together. Wash well. Swish head-down in several changes of water; drain and halve lengthways. If you spot any dirt left between the leaves, swish in water again. Drain lettuces and dry – dry very well, so that they grill, rather than steam. Brush all over with olive oil. Preheat grill, grill pan or cast iron pan and lightly oil. Grill lettuces cut side down for 1-2 minutes until they develop nice char marks. Turn carefully (tongs are good for this) and give lettuces 1-2 minutes on the other side. Plate cut-side up and season with a little salt. Drizzle lightly with streaks and splotches of the creamy dressing, and crumble over remaining blue cheese in nice large chunks. Serves 4.

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