Yes, you can totally grill lettuce! Not just romaine. And it’s stunning. Such a fun alternative to the usual summer salads.
I got a shipment of living lettuce from Inspired Greens last week – gorgeous heads of lettuce grown in Alberta greenhouses and harvested in their pots, sold not in clamshells but in sturdy thin plastic cones, with their roots attached. They’re grown to adolescent size – a bit bigger than baby lettuces, so they stay fresh for ages, especially if you store them in a short glass of water in the fridge. Honestly, I try growing greens in my garden and patio containers with limited success every year – they wilt and bolt and never grow to be big and full and robust – and this is a bit like having a micro-garden on a shelf in my fridge. Far less frustrating.
They say these heads of lettuce contains 3 times the lettuce of a typical grocery store variety. And can we talk for a minute about the miracle of three types of lettuce in one? Up on the right there is the Multileaf Trio – so you can pluck off a few leaves for your sandwich, and have the option of three different varieties? Or make a more interesting salad from one head of lettuce? This was so gorgeous it sat on my kitchen table like a bouquet of flowers all week, and I just plucked off a few leaves as I wanted them.
Inspired Greens asked me to play around with their greens in my kitchen, and I was happy to oblige. I chose heads of red and green Batavia (above) to toss on the grill – these leaves are broad and delicate, yet sturdy enough to toss on a hot burger or grilled chicken sandwich, and held up just fine on the grill, its ruffly tips getting nicely charred over the intense heat. It’s ridiculously simple – just cut away the stem, brush off any residual dirt, and cut the entire head in half lengthwise. Brush the cut side with oil and grill directly on a preheated grill rack until the core is char-marked and the edges are singed. You wind up with this deliciously crunchy, smoky lettuce – it doesn’t cook all the way through – that I doused in a quick, chunky blue cheese dressing. Just about perfect alongside a grilled steak, don’t you think? Far more interesting than a tossed salad, but with similar qualities.
You can serve them up on a platter – aim for a quarter or half a head per person – and I love that not one bit of the lettuce is wasted. Next time I’ll try it Caesar-style, with garlicky dressing and crusty bread brushed with olive oil and grilled, then torn over the grilled lettuce, with grilled chicken. Glad this summer is lingering a little longer.
Thanks to a Inspired Greens, launching in Canadian grocery stores now, for supporting this site and bringing more Alberta-grown produce to our tables!