Lettuce is one of those funny foods that I don’t think anyone really thinks about. There was a time when it was just diet food, especially the much maligned iceberg. Iceberg is not the most nutritious,but it’s so edible and fun. You can use it in place of taco shells, make cole slaw, use it in place of chips for dips. It’s sturdy just like it’s sister lettuces, romaine and red and green leaf. Funny to think that this vegetable, formerly thought of as a weed by Egyptians, is sturdy and durable….the Tonka truck of the food world.
Personally, I love lettuce and yes, even iceberg. It’s all about the texture. Crunchy. Watery. Green. It’s then about the toppings, the dressings, the vinaigrettes, the lovely sauces that cover and cling.
Let’s think about some of the lettuces: Bibb (probably the Queen…expensive); the red and green (Fraternal Twins); Romaine (the Glamourous one….in the Caesar, dressed up in bleu cheese too) and then the Iceberg (the Stalwart). We also have raw spinach, lamb’s leaf (my favorite….tossed with a little olive oil and really good salt! Dreams are made from this…), arugula. There are also Endive (the European…it’s curly, fancy…has an accent). However, lettuce stick to the well-known lettuces on this little episode.
Fun Facts about Lettuce:
1. It’s the number two vegetable behind potatoes of most consumed in the United States.
2. 75 % of all lettuce is grown in California. (Since, the state is currently in the middle of one of the worst droughts in history, it will be very costly soon.)
3. You can’t preserve it. It is impervious to canning, pickling, bottling or freezing.
4. Lettuce was introduced to the New World in the mid-15th Century.
Just a little fun trivia…to lighten your day.
You Will Need:
Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad
1 head of Romaine lettuce (Outer leaves peeled off)
Salt & pepper
Let’s Make This Puppy:
1. Heat a gas grill. (If using a charcoal, cook all the meat and let them embers cool. We want grill marks and a slight wilt….not blackened vegetables.)
2. Cut the lettuce into fourths. If it’s a small head, maybe only in half…you be the judge. (You have the knife in your hand….I’m not going to tell you what to do.)
3. Brush the cut side with olive oil. Not a lot just enough to glisten and place cut side down on hot grill. DO NOT COVER. This is really just to give a slight taste of char, that BBQ outdoor flavor. It’s like parboiling a potato, we don’t want to cook it, we want to add a little character to it’s existing personality. Remember the first time your parents scolded you in public….and left a scar in your psyche, it’s like that; a little character development.
Leave the lettuce on the grill, creating the lovely grill marks. The rest of it might have a little bit of brown around the edges….again, a little character development or taste enhancement.
Remove and place on a plate.
4. Now onto the dressing: Take a wooden bowl that’s been thoroughly chilled in a freezer. (You don’t have to do this step. It’s only if you want to be fancy.) Rub the garlic clove on the inside of the bowl. Pour in about 1/2 cup of olive oil….couple of dashes of Worcestershire, a dollop of Dijon mustard, squeeze a little lemon…about 1 tablespoon….and add freshly grated Parmesan. Whisk it together in the bowl. (If you want it a creamier consistency…like in a chain restaurant….add some mayo.). Add the salt and pepper to taste.
5. Arrange the lettuce with the cut side up, Drizzle the dressing over the lettuce. If it’s a little thick, you can whisk in a little more olive oil. Grate some more cheese over it….and voila, Grilled Caesar Salad.
Note: I don’t like to add croutons to this. There is already a lot of crunch and we are dealing with half a head or a quartered lettuce. You won’t miss the croutons. Trust me.