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Recipe #273: Grilled Hearts of Romaine with Caper-Avocado Dressing

Posted Jun 06 2011 8:12pm
This sophisticated way of serving hearts of romaine is an exciting alternative to traditional cold salads. It's particularly wonderful for summer dinner parties or casual outdoor gatherings, for a nice evening spent out on the deck/patio. Nothing says summer like a little outdoor dining. :)

The caper-avocado dressing in this recipe can also be used as a marinade for chicken or fish.

Grilled Hearts of Romaine with Caper-Avocado Dressing

Dressing Ingredients: (Makes 1 c.)
1/4 c. ripe Haas avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced (about 1/4 Haas avocado)
3 Tbsp. shallots, peeled and finely minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. capers, soaked for 10 minutes in 1/2 c. water
1/2 Tbsp. garlic, peeled and finely minced
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/8 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/8 c. water
1/8 tsp. ground thyme
1/4 tsp. ground oregano
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste

Salad Ingredients:
4 large hearts of romaine, halved lengthwise, with ends untrimmed/instact to keep leaves attached/bundled together
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil (or 1/2 Tbsp. per half heart of romaine)
1/4 c. fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded (or shaved) (or 1/2 Tbsp. per half heart of romaine)cracked black pepper, to taste
kosher or sea salt, to taste
Directions: Make dressing: Pulse all ingredients together in a blender until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate dressing overnight to allow flavors to meld.

Next prepare the salad: Preheat outdoor grill, indoor tabletop George Foreman grill, or large (11") square, nonstick  grill pan  (for stove top cooking). Using a silicone pastry brush or oil diffuser (like Misto ), lightly coat (or spray) each romaine heart half with 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil ) and place on grill. Grill over medium heat until grill marks appear, and romaine is slightly wilted and lightly charred on the outside, turning occasionally with heat-proof tongs, about 2 minutes per side. (Please note: Cooking time may vary depending upon the selected grilling method. Also, a closed George Foreman grill only requires about 2 minutes total, since both sides of the romaine hearts will be simultaneously grilled.) Important safety tip: If using grill pan, be sure to use splatter screen to contain the hot, spluttering oil.

If romaine hearts are beginning to cook too quickly, reduce heat as necessary. Remove the romaine from the grill and transfer to plates. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Drizzle dressing on top, about 1-2 Tbsp. dressing per person. Sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano on top, about 1/2 Tbsp. per person. Refrigerate any remaining dressing for future use. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8 servings of salad (1/2 romaine heart = 1 serving) and 1 c. dressing, or 1-2 Tbsp. of dressing per half grilled romaine heart. (If all 8 servings are topped with only 1 Tbsp. of dressing, you will have about a 1/2 c. dressing left over.)

Chef's Notes: To make this recipe vegan, simply omit the Parmigiano-Reggiano or use a grated cheese substitute.

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