Grilled Romaine with Charred Grapefruit Dressing

Grilled romaine is one of those things that I order every time I see it on a menu. It's just such a fascinating hybrid to me of two things that I wouldn't at all think belong together: the grill, with its rough, hot brutishness juxtaposed with the tender, crispy leaves of "spa food" infamy. What sounds like failure in the making may in fact change the way you feel about romaine forever. Grilling romaine at home is not a complicated or lengthy process. A quick spritz with some nonstick spray, 30 seconds of high-heat contact and otherwise boring greens take on new life with a smoky aroma and toasted flavor with enough depth to let them stand on their own as a dinner centerpiece. One note on the prep: Since leeks tend to be very sandy, I sliced them in half from root to tip and ran the cut sides under cold water, gently pulling the layers apart to rinse away any sediment. This cleans the leeks out and also puts a bit of moisture in them, which helps to steam and tenderize them while they're on the grill.

Recipe courtesy Patrick Decker
TOTAL TIME: 20 min
Prep: 15 min
Inactive Prep: --
Cook: 5 min
 
YIELD: 4 servings
LEVEL: Easy

ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 small ruby red grapefruits, halved
  • 1 small leek, split lengthwise and rinsed
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 large heads romaine, split lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup shaved manchego cheese (from about a 1-ounce chunk)
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Directions

Preheat a grill to high heat.

Lightly grease the cut sides of the grapefruit(s) and leek with nonstick cooking spray. Grill them both, cut-side down, until they are charred and the leeks are tender, about 2 minutes for the grapefruit and 3 minutes for the leeks. Let cool slightly.

Juice the grapefruit into a large mixing bowl (you should have about 1/2 cup juice). Chop the leeks and add them to the bowl with the grapefruit juice. Add the olive oil, honey and some salt and pepper to the bowl and whisk to combine. Reserve.

Lightly grease the cut sides of the romaine with nonstick cooking spray. Grill the lettuce, cut-side down, until aromatic and charred, about 30 seconds. Transfer the lettuce to serving plates. Drizzle it with the prepared dressing and garnish with almonds and shaved cheese. Serve immediately.

Serving Suggestion: Because my husband is one of those "this is good, but I'm still hungry" kind of people, I added some grilled chicken alongside. Do as you please - this would be perfect with a fillet of salmon, pork chop or all on its own.

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