Grilling romaine lettuce is a different way of preparing it.

In our house, we are increasing our vegetable consumption and reducing our animal protein, replacing it with healthy organic vegetables and fish. To do this economically, I recently reactivated our Costco membership. I try to buy only organic and Costco makes it easy to find as all the organic products have large green signs. That is so much easier than trying to check the bar codes and/or labels to be sure they have the coveted No. 9 as the first number on the code ensuring that yes, it is organic. I carefully make a list of the foods I need for the week to ensure we continue down the “Highway to Health” this year. I am determined to stick to the list. Now, I’m not very good at cooking for two. You would think that with all three of our daughters being out of the house since 2000, I would have adjusted my recipes and downsized the quantities. Not a chance! I guess it’s the “Big Fat Greek” heritage that makes me cook for a crowd, just in case an extra eight to 10 people drop in!

I’m the kind of customer the big box stores love. I think they see me coming and set out things definitely not on my list; they may be healthy but really, can’t they just sell in smaller quantities? I was there this past week with only five things on my list: fruit, vegetables, fish, paper products and, of course, wine.

By the time I checked out, my wallet was extremely lighter and my purchases barely fit into the back of my small SUV. Did I mention we are empty nesters? What was I thinking? Eight heads of romaine, two watermelons, a 5-pound bag of apples, 3 pounds of green beans, three large English cucumbers, six large tomatoes, a 2-pound plastic container of mixed baby greens, and yes, also 2 pounds of spinach. Not to mention how much squash, peppers, onions, bananas, berries and mangoes I loaded into my cart. The stash of what I bought far exceeded what I had on my list, but I figured we are going to eat really healthy this week and look how economical it was buying in bulk!  

By Day Three, I was so tired of salad, salad and more salad. I started putting spinach, cucumbers, watermelon and apples into my morning shakes; tasty, yes, but even that was getting old. I also stuffed squash with veggies, tomatoes with veggies, and other veggies with veggies. I was entering Day Seven and even with all of my creative recipes, I still had six, yes six (semi-wilty) heads of romaine in my fridge. Now what? My husband Phil said he really wasn’t a fan of romaine so I had to create something unique.

I have deep fried fennel fronds and sage leaves and even charred radicchio lettuce outside on the grill, but attempting to grill the much-more delicate romaine lettuce was something I had not done until last week. And it was a hit. This is a dish that was pretty easy to do and delicious. So, “Please Join our Table” as we finish eating the remains of our Costco purchase with the “Romaine(s) of the Day.”

Karen’s Grilled “Romaine Of The Day”

Ingredients for the dressing:

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
6 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced (optional)
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Ingredients for the salad:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons McCormick’s steak seasoning (or your favorite)
2 heads romaine lettuce, cut lengthwise in half, bottoms trimmed and core to remain intact
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Lemon juice

To make the dressing: In a food processor, add the minced garlic and minced anchovies with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Blend until a paste forms. Add the mayonnaise and the mustard and blend 10 seconds. Add the olive oil while blending on low, then the vinegar. Add salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings and set aside. On a platter, lay out romaine lettuce halves. Drizzle 1/2 cup olive oil and steak seasoning over the halved heads of lettuce. Preheat stovetop grill or cast-iron skillet to medium heat and carefully place the romaine on the stovetop grill or cast-iron skillet for 30 seconds on each side until it is lightly golden and slightly charred on the edges, then remove to a cool side of the grill. Sprinkle lettuce with the Parmesan cheese and move lettuce back to the hot side of the grill, reduced to medium low, for cheese to soften or melt (1-2 minutes). Remove lettuce to a platter and drizzle the dressing over the lettuce, making sure it gets between the leaves. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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