NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

June 12, 2013

A grilled salad perfect for Dad

My approach to food is pretty simple. I firmly believe that if you can eat it, you can grill it.

When I wrote my first cookbook, I compiled my favorite grilled foods. Some were familiar, but some seemed pretty crazy back in 2005! Of those crazy foods, grilled romaine lettuce remains one of my favorites. And I’m not alone. Today, it is so popular, it’s on restaurant menus all over the place, a sure sign that Americans have embraced the idea that a salad can be grilled.

I paired my grilled romaine classically, with a homemade blue cheese dressing and crispy apple wood smoked bacon. It’s the ultimate steakhouse wedge salad. And it’s perfect for Dad on Father’s Day.

The real beauty of this recipe is how the heat of the grill wilts and caramelizes the lettuce, intensifying the flavor and adding a wisp of smoke. The texture becomes crispy on the edges and silky inside. Mix that with the rich and slightly pungent blue cheese and the salty, smoky bacon, and you’ve got a salad that eats like a main course. Meaty, rich and delicious!

I usually make the blue cheese dressing the day before because it benefits from sitting overnight in the refrigerator. The flavors truly blend and blossom during this extra time. It also makes this salad that much easier to grill and serve. The bacon can be fried in advance, as well. But if you do that, just before serving, place it in a paper towel and microwave it for 15 to 20 seconds, or until the fat begins to sizzle. I dice the meatiest bacon I can find into one-quarter-inch pieces before frying so that they fry up into bits and don’t need crumbling. You also could use pancetta.

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