Along with my final recap of the Dole Summit festivities, I decided to share this Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Smoky Dressing recipe today because, well, I’ve been pouting about it for days now (which can really make your lips tired after the first 7 or so hours).
Okay, so I haven’t really been pouting continuously about it–but enough that the HH tersely suggested I try to create my own grilled romaine recipe after I whined that I wasn’t able to taste the one they served at the summit. And so, I did. Pout be gone!
I remember first learning about grilled romaine a few years ago, when I read how it transformed Susan from a romaine-reviler into a romaine-rooter. I thought, “Hmm, nifty idea!” and then promptly forgot about it.
Well, last Thursday evening at the final soirée of the Dole Summit (after our day in the field and at the company headquarters), one of the food stations at our dinner proffered grilled romaine with a buttermilk dressing. (There were six food stations all together, each with a different theme, but all featuring salad veggies).
[Grilling romaine on our hotel terrace in Monterey.]
Although there were plenty of options I could freely enjoy (I loved the southwestern quinoa-black bean-corn combo, the gluten-free veggie pizza, and the watermelon-tomato-basil salads most), the grilled romaine was off the menu for me. I stared, entranced, as the chef grilled leaf after leaf of the crispy green lettuce, then slathered them in rich, creamy dressing. (He did offer to provide a leaf on its own to me, but really, what would have been the point of having it undressed?). Once again, I tucked the idea away in a fairly uninhabited compartment of my brain (lucky I’ve still got loads of those available), with the intention of re-visitng it when I got home. Then I went on to enjoy the rest of the party.
[Coolest centerpiece ever: butter lettuces in a basket!]
Friday morning, my last in Monterey (adieu, clear Northern California air! Bye, bye, blue skies! G’day, green, lush fields! Sayonara, summit!) the folks from Dole took those of us still around on a short tour of 17 Mile Drive and Pebble Beach. Like virtually all the California scenery we took in during our stay, this area was breathtakingly picturesque. A highlight was the legendary Lone Cypress tree, which we all gathered round to admire.
[Requisite touristy photo of the Lone Cypress.]
As much as I loved seeing the sights, after three days of travel, intensive discussions, learning, and chatting, I was quite weary and ready to get home (“And we were ready to have you back, Mum! Dad just doesn’t dole out the treats the way you do. Ha ha, ‘dole out,’ get it?“). After a two-hour taxi trek, Amie, Kevin and I finally arrived at San Francisco airport. While Amie boarded her flight to New York, Kevin and I headed to the checkin counter for Air Canada–where we hit our first snag in the plans.
[Kevin taking a photo at Pebble Beach]
Our flight had been delayed by an hour and a half! No worries; that gave us time to purchase some lunch and learn a little more about each other’s blogs. Finally, after roaming the airport (one way to get exercise), we strolled to the gate to find. . . the flight had been delayed, again! By this point, our departure was set for 6:15 California time, which meant we wouldn’t touch down in Toronto until 2:35 AM local. As this fact slowly registered in my brain (one of the inhabited compartments this time), it was then that I–to put it mildly–lost it.
For that, I sincerely apologize to Kevin (who clearly had no idea whatsoever how to handle an incoherent, hysterical, middle-aged woman laughing so hard she sounded like a deranged macaw). As any reasonable individual in a similar situation might do, Kevin stepped aside and pretended he didn’t know me.
I finally made it through my front door at 3:43 AM. (For that, I sincerely apologize to all my neighbors, who undoubtedly were awoken by the eardrum-piercing yelps, growls, snarls and barks that emanated from the startled Girls when they spied my shadowy figure hovering over the keyhole, unannouced, at that hour of the morning.)
And now that life is (relatively) back to normal, I thought I’d share this terrific salad, my version of the one I missed in Monterey. The dish seems to be at once very trendy in its preparation method, yet somehow also retro with its combination of lettuce and a creamy, smoky-sweet dressing, much like the popular iceberg wedges topped with blue cheese dressing. In this case, the romaine attains a certain caramelized sweetness as it yields to the grill in places; but the heat also enhances its juiciness, all without removing the crunch factor. The trio of crisp romaine, sweet and smoky dressing, and caramelized, chewy onions is entirely captivating.
I’m glad I finally gave the recipe a try. Even if it’s not the same as the one they served in Monterey, this version still evokes a special occasion (it would be great as a Mother’s day treat, for those of you celebrating tomorrow). Oh, and memories of grilling by the Monterey Bay, under the California skies.
Many thanks to all the great folks at the Dole Summit for the inspiration!
Other Dole Summit recaps:
- Dole Summit: Lettuce Begin the Festivities!
- Salad Squared at the Dole Summit: Salad Samplings, Salad Ballet and Salad Recipe
Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Smoky Dressing
A perfect first course or side dish to summer Bar B Q’s. If you don’t grill outside, the leaves can easily be cooked on an indoor grill (such as a George Foreman grill) as well. Despite the many parts to the recipe, this comes together fairly quickly.
For the garnish:
4 green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
For the dressing:
1/2 package (6 ounces or 175 g) firm or extra firm silken tofu, such as Mori-Nu
2 Tbsp (30 ml) raw cashews
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) unsweetened plain soy, almond or flax milk
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) dijon mustard
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1/4 tsp (1 ml) garlic powder or salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) smoked paprika
5-10 drops plain liquid stevia, to your taste
pinch fine sea salt, if needed
For the lettuce:
1 head of romaine lettuce, washed and leaves removed*
about 2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic, divided
Make the garnish: Heat the 1 Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil in a small, nonstick frypan. Add the sliced green onions and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion bits are all browned and have begun to crisp up, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, make the dressing: Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until perfectly smooth. Set aside.
Prepare the lettuce: Heat a grill according to directions. Using 2-3 leaves at a time (stack them on top of each other), brush the inside and outside leaves with olive oil and place on the grill. Grill for 3-5 minutes, flipping once, until the leaves wilt and parts are charred, ensuring that the leaves still retain their shape. Transfer to a serving dish. Continue until all of the leaves are cooked.
Assemble the salad: Layer the leaves on a serving plate and spoon the dressing over them as desired. Sprinkle with the browned green onions. Serve while the romaine is still warm (though this can also be served at room temperature). Makes 4-6 servings.
*Note: most grilled romaine recipes advise you to cut the lettuce lengthwise into 4 sections, keeping the root end intact. This does help make grilling easier, but severely limits your servings (ie, to just 4). I prefer to separate the leaves so that I can feed to a larger group if desired; the choice is up to you.
Suitable for: Anti-candida diet Stage 2 and beyond; dairy-free, egg-free, sugar-free, low-glycemic, Diabetic-friendly.
I’m linking this recipe to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.
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Other salads or grillable recipes on DDD:
- Shaved Asparagus Salad with Grapefruit-Tarragon Vinaigrette (gluten free; ACD stage 3 and beyond)
- Glazed Tofu Cutlets with Ginger-Cilantro Pesto (gluten free; ACD all stages)
- Mango-Avocado Salad (gluten free; ACD maintenance only)
- Gingery Beet Salad (gluten free; ACD all stages)
© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs