Photo: Kevin Pang

Romaine lettuce had a rough 2018 and now it’s looking to rehab its image. I’ve always felt bad that its reputation took such a public beating (the E.Coli-outbreak part was bad, too), because it was part of the first salad I truly enjoyed as a kid—Caesar salad. It was a salad that felt like it was served for royalty, with a luxuriously creamy dressing and savory hits of anchovies.

Nowadays, we make Caesar salad with homemade dressing any chance we can (I even add a few drops of fish sauce to boost the umami). But as it is currently prime grilling season, we’ve been throwing halved heads of Romaine lettuce on our grill. I’ve always seen fancy steakhouses do this, and this is the first year I’ve tried it in my backyard—and the results are spectacular.

So what do you do? Take a whole head of Romaine and halve it through the stem. You drizzle the flat side with olive oil and salt, then throw it straight on a grill. Don’t touch them for at least five minutes. I even like them charred to a slightly burnt state. The result is as appealing as crisp leaves on charred Brussels sprouts, a smokey and slightly bitter remix of ho-hum lettuce. Grilling heads of Romaine also allows for some pretty plating opportunities—stack on a cutting board, and add your dressing, croutons, grated cheese, and a good glug of olive oil on top. It’s kind of sexy, if you ask me.

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Photo: Kevin Pang