I had my first grilled salad on my honeymoon in this fantastic little restaurant in Nova Scotia, and let me say, I was floored. Since that time, I've seen it a few times in other restaurants, but only rarely.
Don't get me wrong, I was quite the skeptic when I heard that the lettuce was grilled. How do you grill lettuce?!
This is how.
You're going to be blown away by 1) how easy this is and 2) how professional and outstandingly tasty this is. Just ask the houseguests I had who are still talking about it!
Start by getting a bunch of romaine hearts - each heart will make two salads. Cut them in half, and rub a small amount of olive oil on the flat side. Then, get your grill really, really hot, and put the heads flat side down on the grill. After about 60-90 seconds, turn the lettuce 45 degrees to create a good criss cross char. Leave for another 60-90 seconds, and remove from the grill. You will only put the flat side down on the grill - you will not flip it over. It will then look like this:
See how pretty that looks? The lettuce isn't wilted, yet you get a great grill/char flavor. And since you only got just one side briefly hot, the lettuce stays crispy throughout.
You can use this as a base for a few salads. The first grilled salad I had was a caesar salad, but my favorite way to prepare it for guests is...
Reduce some balsamic vinegar:
Add some homemade candied almonds:
To candy any nuts, chop them to whatever thickness you want, and put them in a non-stick pan with 2 parts white sugar, 1 part brown sugar, and a hefty pinch of salt. Cook on medium heat, and the sugar will dissolve naturally and create a wonderful candy coating on the nuts.
Finally, drizzle the reduced balsamic on the lettuce along with some olive oil, crack some black pepper and top, and sprinkle a few dried cranberries on top in addition to the candied almonds.
It looks impressive, and only includes a few ingredients! And people will be blown away by how tasty a grilled salad is!