Grilled Salad!

I know, it sounds weird but is surprisingly tasty.  We first tried this at a restaurant that we chose because they make their own salad dressings.  That was enough to move them to the head of the list when selecting from among eateries that were all unfamiliar to us.  We were not disappointed.  Naturally, I would have to make a version of this at home.

The salad begins with romaine lettuce sliced in half. You can remove the outermost leaves andsave them for another use or buy romaine hearts.  Buying the full head of lettuce is far more economical so that is what I do.  In order to give the lettuce some flavor I drizzle a bit of vinaigrette over the cut halves and let it run down inside.  

Then place each half, cut-side-down on a hot grill.  The length of cooking time will vary depending on the grill temp.  Hotter is better.  You want char lines on the cut halves without heating the lettuce through.  The contrast between crisp and cool versus warm char is what makes this preparation so tasty.  When the cut side is charred remove the lettuce from the grill and plate, cut-side-up.

The lettuce is the star so just top it with a few complementary ingredients for color, like red grape tomatoes or red sweet pepper strips and black olives.  Top with a bit of shaved parmesan or pecorino pepato, a few grinds of black pepper, drizzle (to taste) with the remaining vinaigrette and serve with some crusty warm bread.  One half of the romaine makes a generous serving.  As a side dish you may only need 1/4 to 1/3 of a head per person (depending on the size of the head of lettuce.  Add a little grilled chicken, salmon, shrimp or beef to turn this into a main dish.  
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