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Grilled romaine salad

(Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
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July 23, 2008

Serves 6

Chefs are now using a charcoal grill to make an entire meal - including dessert. Anyone for grilled pineapple? So it follows that crisp and hearty romaine lettuce is yet another perfect grilling ingredient. Leave the leaves and core intact and you can move the lettuce on and off the heat without worrying that the greens will fall apart. They turn slightly smoky but they're still crisp inside. The restaurant Avila has offered grilled lettuce draped with strips of roasted peppers and white anchovy, served beside slender croutons (pictured above). Romaine, also known as cos, is the lettuce of choice for Caesar salad, which is the inspiration for this grilled romaine recipe. Some of the same elements - including lemon juice, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese - are here. Chives provide a mild onion flavor as well as their bright color. No grill? Use a skillet or grill pan over medium heat for the same results.

Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4cup olive oil
3heads of romaine lettuce hearts, leaves and cores intact
1/4pound Parmesan cheese
2tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil in a thin steady stream.

3. Halve each romaine head lengthwise. Brush the cut side and the outer leaves with some of the vinaigrette and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the lettuces on the grill rack cut sides down. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes until grill marks appear.

4. Meanwhile, use a wide vegetable peeler to shave pieces off the Parmesan cheese. With tongs, turn the lettuce. Set a few shaves of Parmesan cheese on top of each one to melt. Grill the other side to wilt and slightly char it.

5. Transfer the lettuces to a cutting board and cut out the cores. Arrange half a lettuce on each of 6 salad plates. Drizzle with more vinaigrette, pepper, and chives. Christine Merlo

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