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  • {Recipe Redux} Grilled Romaine With Smoky Roasted Tomatoes and Parmesean

    Tuesday, July 21, 2015

    grilled romaine salad with roasted tomatoes
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    I’m here to tell you that comfort food doesn’t have to be heavy, rich or reserved for the long cold days of winter.

    This bold proclamation may be dependent on your definition of comfort food. For me, it’s the dishes I enjoyed as a kid. Sure, things like macaroni and cheese and my mother’s ridiculous chicken pot pie with biscuit crust are on the top of my list of favorites. But one of my most treasured and craved comfort foods sneaks into my conscience on nearly a daily basis as soon as the first summer tomatoes start appearing at the local farmer’s market. That (summer) comfort food is….tomato sandwiches.

    PpThat’s right. Just tomatoes. In a sandwich.

    My tried-and-true approach is pretty unadulterated…just a few thick slices of fresh tomatoes, some hearty bread (toasted and slathered with a generous amount of butter) and a sprinkle each of salt and pepper. This my friends is my summer time eating happy place.

    But it doesn’t make for much of a recipe. I mean, there it is, right there. Tomatoes. Toast. Butter. Salt and pepper.

    So, since this month’s Recipe Redux challenge was all about cooking with the summer harvest in mind, I couldn’t resist the pull of tomatoes. And fresh lettuce. And parsley. Did I mention that the lettuce in this one is grilled? Because, well, zucchini, eggplant, corn and onions shouldn’t have all the summer grilling fun.

    But first a confession: I don’t like to dig in the dirt. When Paul and I bought our first house, I fancied myself an aspiring gardener. So much yard, and sun, and good things to plant. What could be better? Armed with shiny new gardening tools and even a pair of rubber clogs, I set about digging and planting. I loved the smell of the dirt, but didn’t like dirty hands, so I added gardening gloves to my arsenal. After digging for just a few minutes I came face to face with the biggest earth worm I’d ever seen. Seriously. I didn’t know they could get so….big. I jumped up, threw down my tools and wandered toward the house, pondering whether I had the mettle to deal with all of the things that live in the ground. Turns out, I don’t

    On to plan B–container gardening. It all seemed pretty foolproof. Purchase some pretty pots, a few tomato, lettuce, a bevy of herb plants and a bag of soil made especially for growing vegetables and surely I’d be harvesting in no time.

    Enter slugs. Did you know that they can shimmy up the side of pretty pots in order to chomp on your beautiful lettuce? Seriously, gardening isn’t for the faint of heart. As my lettuce became lunch for some disgusting uninvited guests, I accepted the fact that I am not a gardener.

    All this to say, thank you farmers for making sure that I never have to have dirty hands or slimy dinner guests (except during a particularly tricky dating period in the early 90’s–stories for another day).

    hearts of romaine

    Back to this amazing salad. I first had a grilled romaine a couple of years ago and it was a bit of a revelation for me. Up until that point the thought of tossing lettuce on a hot grill didn’t cross my mind any more than tossing watermelon would have (incidentally….delicious!). One bite in and it was obvious that I was missing out on the crazy goodness that is slightly charred lettuce.

    Since I clearly love tomatoes enough to make a sandwich out of them, I wanted these little treasures of summer to share the spotlight with the lettuce. I decided to stick with the concept of a ‘cooked’ salad and tossed some fresh heirloom grape and cherry tomatoes with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and smoked paprika and roasted them until they began to pop. I gotta say, I love the sound of those little summer gem tomatoes bursting as the heat forces them to release their natural sugars. I whipped up a super simple citrusy parsley Dijon dressing, added a few slivers of fresh Grana Padano Parmesean and finished it all off with a sprinkle of capers.

    smoky roasted tomatoes

    Oh man, this is an amazing salad!

    The char of the lettuce combined with the smoky sweetness of the roasted tomatoes and the bright subtle herbaceous (extra points for using this term) of the dressing all make for a simple to achieve complexity. The addition of the Grana Padano makes for an entree-worthy salad. (Don’t skimp on the quality of the cheese….this one deserves the special nutty not-everydayness the Grana Padano adds).

    If you’re making this a meal, go ahead and plan on 1 full romaine heart per person. I’d also consider adding a poached egg, some grilled sardines, or a few mild white anchovies. Plan on 1/2 a romaine heart per person if your serving this salad as a side or appetizer. If you’re not feeling ambitious about firing up the grill, just to toss some lettuce on it, you can easily prepare the lettuce indoors using a grill pan over high heat. Regardless of the method, don’t cook the lettuce for more than 2 minutes. Let me know what you think!

    grilled romaine salad with roasted tomatoesx

    {Recipe Redux} Grilled Romaine With Smoky Roasted Tomatoes and Parmesean

    servings: 2 as a main or 4 as a side | time: about 40 minutes

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    ingredients:

    For the roasted tomatoes:

    2 cups grape and/or cherry tomatoes (I used an heirloom mix)

    2 TBSP. olive oil

    1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

    pinch sugar

    pinch salt

    pinch ground black pepper

     

    For the vinaigrette:

    Juice of 1 large lemon

    1 small clove garlic

    1 TBSP. Dijon mustard

    1/2 tsp. sugar

    1/4 tsp. salt

    1/8 tsp. white pepper

    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

    1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves

     

    For the grilled romaine

    1 – 2 hearts of romaine lettuce (plan on 1 per person if serving as a main course or 1/2 per person if serving as a side or appetizer)

    olive oil

     

    Finishing touches:

    a few good slivers of the Grana Padano and a sprinkle of capers

    directions:

    Preheat oven to 375

     

    Roast the tomatoes:

    1. Place the tomatoes, olive oil, paprika, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss well to combine

    2. Spread tomatoes on a rimmed baking pan in a single layer. Roast at 375 for 25 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to burst

     

    Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette by tossing the lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt, white pepper, olive oil and fresh parsley into a blender. Blend on high for a few seconds, until all of the ingredients come together. Leave in blender and set aside.

     

    Grill the romaine:

    1. Brush the grill grates or grill pan with vegetable oil

    2. Slice the romaine hearts in half lengthwise, making sure not to trim the bottom (you want the lettuce to stay together to make grilling it easy)

    3.  Preheat a grill to medium high or a grill pan over medium high heat on the stove top

    4. Brush the cut-side of the lettuce with a bit of olive oil

    5. Once the grill or grill pan is really hot, place the romaine, cut side down, directly on the grill or grill pan

    6. Let it cook for no more than 2 minutes, don’t touch it as it cooks!

     

    Assemble the salad:

    1. Arrange the romaine half (or halves if serving two per person) cut side up on a large plate

    2. Spoon some of the roasted tomatoes on top of the lettuce and around the plate

    3. Top with a few good slivers of the Grana Padano

     

    comments:

    6 responses to “{Recipe Redux} Grilled Romaine With Smoky Roasted Tomatoes and Parmesean”

    1. I need to try roasting tomatoes! They look so tasty especially in this salad!

      • They are SO good, Rachel! One of my favorite ways to use roasted tomatoes is in pureed cauliflower, which I use as a base for ‘creamy’ pasta or pizza ‘sauce’ 🙂

    2. Oh I so share your love for tomatoes in the summer – your tomato sandwich sounds like the ultimate comfort food. And if you read my post, you’ll see that gardening doesn’t really agree with me 🙂 I remember the first time I tried grilled romaine in a restaurant and I was hooked. Can’t wait to try this salad!

    3. This looks delicious and I love the idea of roasting the tomatoes as well!

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