Grilled and Raw Spring Salad

No boring salads allowed here! Salads should be vibrant, colorful, interesting, and multi-dimensional. They should make you love veggies and want to eat more veggies.


In my mind, one of the keys to making a killer salad is having a diversity of flavors. A bunch of raw veggies is just one-note. But grilling the lettuce (or at least some of it, as I've done here) is a game-changer. Likewise, incorporating some roasted or grilled veggies in with other raw veggies adds so much depth.

I love grilling lettuce. In this spring salad, I've grilled some of the lettuces (the romaine hearts and the green endives) and left other lettuces raw (the red endives and the radicchio). I think having a mixture of grilled and raw flavors really makes this salad intriguing.


A couple important things to keep in mind when you grill lettuce:

1.) Go as hot and fast as possible; you want to lightly char and mark the lettuce, not make it warm and wilty. I get the grill (or indoor grill pan) screaming hot and leave the lettuce on for only a minute. Make sure to oil the grill so the delicate lettuce doesn't stick.

2.) You only want to grill the more robust lettuce varieties (romaine, endive, radicchio, etc). Softer lettuces (e.g. leaf lettuce or butter lettuce) will just turn into a slimy mess. Likewise, some dark leafy greens like kale grill nicely.


In addition to both grilled and raw lettuces, this salad has some other iconic spring produce. Grilled lemon halves or wedges drive the spring theme home and are really eye-catching. Asparagus and artichoke hearts are super-seasonal, plus their intricate shapes really complement the look of all the lettuces.

I also add avocado, since I generally find a salad to be more satisfying if there's something fatty in it. And pine nuts, since pine nuts love being with lemon! You could just as easily add your protein of choice and/or some fresh cheese (feta would be delicious).


Especially in the spring, I like bright, clean, crisp flavors. So instead of dressing this salad in a traditional way, I drizzle the whole thing with juice from some grilled lemon halves as well as some pesto, then add some freshly ground pepper and sea salt over the top.

Along with all the complex grill flavors, the lemon juice and pesto really make the lettuce sing. As an added bonus, not gobbing on a bunch of dressing will keep your lettuce from getting soggy, making this salad perfect for a party or potluck.


And look how pretty it is! I love all the seasonal produce and bright springy colors. This Grilled and Raw Spring Salad would make a great addition to a BBQ or even a brunch, and its lemony flavor profile will complement pretty much anything.

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram.

Looking for another centerpiece salad? Check out this Strawberry-Balsamic Radicchio Salad, it's just as pretty.

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are all just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)
  • Lettuce, obviously! These photos show a couple romaine hearts, two green endives, one red endive, and a small head of radicchio, but choose whatever you like.
  • Asparagus
  • Artichoke hearts. If you use fresh, you're a better person than me.
  • Avocado
  • A couple lemons
  • Pesto. I always keep homemade in the freezer so I can easily use a couple spoonfuls at a time. Either homemade or store bought is fine.
  • Roasted pine nuts
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Sea salt. Something fine-grained so you don't end up with big crunchy crystals. I like keeping sea salt in a grinder for finishing dishes. A flaky salt, like fleur de sel, would also be great here.
Thoughts About Method
(These are all just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. Prep the lettuce. I like cutting all the heads into small spears so that they're pretty and so that people can take a few different kinds.
  2. Grill about half of the lettuce. You can either grill all of a certain kind, leaving other kinds raw, or grill half of each type.
  3. While you have the grill going, grill a few lemons in halves or wedges.
  4. Prep the asparagus. Blanching will yield tender, bright green spears that are really pretty, although not super flavorful. Grilling will yield more flavor but duller color. Or you can go raw.
  5. Prep the artichokes. I fully admit to usually buying canned hearts and cutting them in half. I'm so sorry, I'm a terrible Italian, but artichokes are just such a big pain!
  6. Prep the avocado. You can leave it in big, pretty halves, or cut it into smaller delicate slices. Regardless, soak it in some lemon juice to avoid browning.
  7. Assemble your salad. Start with the biggest spears of lettuce in a symmetrical, circular pattern. Then layer the smaller spears on top. Stick the asparagus spears among the lettuce, and keep the small artichoke hearts for the top. Put the avocado in the center or interspersed with the lettuce.
  8. Drizzle the whole creation with the juice from some of your grilled lemons, then add small dollops of pesto.
  9. Finish with freshly ground pepper and sea salt, as well as a big handful of pine nuts.

Comments

  1. I have never had success grilling lettuce until I followed your technique tips. This is a delicious recipe for a warm, summer night!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Rogue Brussel SproutJune 28, 2020 at 12:28 PM

      Thanks so much, I'm glad to hear! Haha, yeah, grilling lettuce can be a challenging endeavor for numerous reasons. High heat and generous oil is definitely the way to go... otherwise it's a pile of melty lettuce mush!

      Delete

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