Some people think vegetables and salads should be dainty and light, but most veggies have a deeper, darker side – especially if you char them. The process makes them sweet but just a little bitter, like they grew up hard and have some stories to tell. Mexican cooks burn the bejesus out of tomatoes to make smoky, black-flecked salsa. Roasted red peppers get their flavor from high heat that blisters their thin skins. And when the first leeks of spring show up, Spanish cooks make a bonfire out of them and pluck the sweet, soft white remains from inside for delectable finger food. Here are three of our favorite ways to make vegetables a little edgier.
Grilled Romaine Salad
Charring the lettuce quickly gives this salad an almost meaty flavor while keeping the leaves crisp. Serves 4 to 6.
- 1 large head of romaine lettuce
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Dressing of choice – red wine vinaigrette or Caesar are great
- Parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated, to taste
Make sure lettuce is completely dry. Cut the head into halves or quarters, leaving a bit of stem in each wedge to hold it together.
Credit: Neil Langan / Getty Images
Fire up the grill or broiler. When very hot, grill or broil the lettuce wedges, cut side facing the heat. Cook until blackened in spots, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool, chop into bite-size pieces, and toss in a bowl with salt, pepper, and dressing to taste. Top with as much grated cheese as you like.