Summer seems to be arriving in fits and starts, but once it's here to stay, I'll abandon my stove altogether and take my cooking outside for the season. Most of us are familiar with the grilled vegetable standbys of eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and the like, but almost any vegetable can (and should) be grilled, including more delicate items like lettuce. You'd think grilled lettuce would turn warm and soggy, but properly seared on a hot grill it actually gets charred, smoky, and crisp-tender.
I like to serve grilled hearts of romaine lettuce with a rich, tangy buttermilk dressing shot through with fragrant dill, topped with sweet tomatoes and crisp rounds of spicy radishes. This super-simple recipe only takes 20 minutes to prepare and will surely stand out at your next summer barbecue. My favorite part about it? It's the ultimate finger food: just pick up a wedge of lettuce and go to town.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 romaine lettuce hearts, core intact, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 shallot, peeled and minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise (about 1/2 cup)
- 4 small radishes, very thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
Light 1/2 chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over the coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, preheat a gas grill to high, covered, for at least 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
While grill is preheating, in a small bowl, combine olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Using a pastry brush, brush flat side of each lettuce half with oil mixture and set aside on a plate. Combine buttermilk, mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar, shallot, sugar, dill and salt and pepper to taste in a mason jar or well-sealed tupperware container and shake until thoroughly emulsified. Set aside.
When grill is hot, place lettuce flat side down on the grill. Cover grill and cook lettuce until well-browned, about 4 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
When lettuce is cooked, place flat side up on a platter and top with dressing (you may have extra dressing). Garnish salad with sliced tomatoes and radishes and serve immediately.
Grill, pastry brush