Put that romaine on the grill for this BLT salad with buttermilk dressing

August 9, 2017 10:43:42 AM

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When I first heard about folks grilling romaine lettuce, I was pretty skeptical. Lettuce is supposed to be crisp. Grilling would make it soggy. What's the point? 

 

Now, having tried it myself, I see the point. Grilling the romaine not only really amplifies its flavor, it also adds the same lip-smacking smokiness that grilling produces in any food. And all it takes is two minutes on the grill to get the job done. 

 

For this recipe for Grilled BLT Salad with Buttermilk Dressing, the romaine is halved and grilled on just one side and then served as a wedge. This, of course, is how iceberg lettuce is served in the steakhouse (minus the grilling, but plus Russian or blue cheese dressing). Here the wedge is topped with the fixings of a BLT sandwich, including grilled bread. Does the grilling soften up the lettuce, as feared? Indeed it does, but only the wedge's outside layer. Happily, the core remains crunchy. 

 

Rather than slathering this salad with glops of too-rich mayonnaise, I've drizzled it with an herbed buttermilk dressing: two parts buttermilk to one part mayo. Most of the buttermilk to be found in the supermarket these days is low-fat, but I've recently discovered a whole-milk version, and if you don't mind the extra calories, I highly recommend it. 

 

The dressing's one essential ingredient is garlic, but the other flavorings are up to you. Not a fan of tarragon or scallion? Use dill, chives, basil or oregano instead. Are there family members who don't eat meat? Swap in smoked salmon for the bacon. Looking to move this salad from the side of the plate to its center? "Beef" it up by adding grilled chicken or shrimp. However you do it, you'll discover, like me, the unexpected joys of grilled lettuce. 

 

 

 

GRILLED BLT SALAD WITH BUTTERMILK DRESSING 

 

Start to finish: 45 minutes 

 

Servings: 4 

 

 

 

For the dressing: 

 

1/4 cup mayonnaise 

 

1/2 cup buttermilk 

 

1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic 

 

3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion (white and green parts) 

 

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon 

 

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 

 

Kosher salt and black pepper 

 

 

 

For the salad: 

 

2 cups halved cherry tomatoes 

 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

 

6 slices bacon 

 

3 slices rustic bread, crusts removed 

 

Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing the lettuce and the bread 

 

2 hearts romaine, halved lengthwise, leaving the cores intact 

 

 

 

  • Preheat the grill to medium. 

     

  • Make the dressing: In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients and whisk well. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside. 

     

  • Make the salad: In a colander toss tomatoes with the salt and let drain while you prepare the rest of the salad. 

     

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add bacon and cook until crisp on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to paper towels to drain and crumble when cool. 

     

  • Brush bread on both sides with some oil and grill bread until toasted on both sides, about 1 to 2 minutes a side. Transfer to a rack, let cool and cut into squares. 

     

  • Brush the cut sides of the romaine with oil and add romaine to the grill, cut side down. Grill just until romaine is lightly charred on the cut side, about 2 minutes. 

     

  • Transfer romaine halves to each of four plates, cut side up. Top each portion with one-fourth of the tomatoes, croutons and bacon; drizzle dressing over each portion. 

     

    Nutrition information per serving: BLT Salad-168 calories; 68 calories from fat; 8 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 34 mg cholesterol; 546 mg sodium; 19 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 5 g protein. Buttermilk Dressing-79 calories; 69 calories from fat; 8 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 6 mg cholesterol; 160 mg sodium; 1 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 1 g protein.