Grilling: Romaine Salad with Spicy Ranch, Tomatoes, and Fried Onions

I always wondered who walks into a barbecue joint and orders a salad, but this past summer, my wife answered that question. To her credit, she normally wouldn't but we were only a few hours off a ginormous breakfast when pulling up to 12 Bones Smokehouse in Asheville, North Carolina.

She opted for an iceberg wedge dressed with spicy Ranch, tomatoes, and fried onions (served with a side of ribs). Now I don't think you'll ever find me ordering a salad in a smokehouse, but I have to admit, this combo is pretty great.

When considering a similar salad at home, grilling hearts of romaine seemed like a nice modification. The grilled lettuce added a nice contrast between the lightly charred, soft leaves and the cool, crunchy ones that stayed raw. Just a little spicy Ranch went a long way, adding an excellent tang and kick. The only thing missing: that side of ribs!

About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.

Grilling: Romaine Salad with Spicy Ranch, Tomatoes, and Fried Onions

About This Recipe

Active time:20 minutes
Total time:40 minutes
Special equipment:Grill
This recipe appears in: Serious Entertaining: A Grilled Pizza Party


  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
  • 2 hearts of romaine, rinsed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 oz grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup French fried onions
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. 1

    In a medium bow, mix ranch dressing and adobo sauce to make the spicy ranch. Set aside.

  2. 2

    Split hearts of romaine in half lengthwise. Brush each cut side with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. 3

    Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place romaine on the grill, cut side down, and grill until leaves start to soften and char, about 5 minutes. Remove from grill.

  4. 4

    Place each heart of romaine on its own plate. Drizzle with dressing, then top with tomatoes and fried onions. Serve immediately.


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