t Casa Rustica, the restaurant I worked at fiercly my entire college career, our chef would often match grilled steak or chicken dishes with grilled romaine. I had never seen it before and the lightly charred, vibrant flavor of the lettuce always stuck with me. I’m surprised I haven’t done this earlier, but better late than never. This one goes out to you Hunter:
Insalata alla Griglia
1 Large Head Romaine Lettuce
2 Ripe Pears
4 Slices Mortadella
1/4 Cup Toasted Bread Crumbs
Quality Balsamic, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper
Crank your grill up to full whack while you prep your salad ingredients.
We only had loose leaf lettuce but ideally you would slice your romaine head in half length wise, leaving the root intact so the halves stay together. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and set aside.
Cut your pears into slices 1/2″ thick, they may look too large but they will shrink and soften on the grill like Costanza in a cold pool. Season lightly with oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Open your grill and place the cut-side of the lettuce halves on the hottest part of the grill. Don’t move or jostle them at all, just leave them for a 30 seconds until they develop a slight char but do not wilt. Pull off and set aside.
Grill your pears next, turning often to ensure they become golden and delicious on all sides.
While you’re grilling your pears toss on the 4 slices of mortadella, turning once or twice until bubbling with foamy fat but not burnt. They should resemble soft bacon.
Once all of your ingredients are properly grilled, chop your lettuce into bite size pieces, along with the pears. Cut your mortadella into long strips about 1/2″ wide and add to the pears and lettuce.
In a seperate bowl whip up a quick balsamic vinaigrette by whisking 1 part balsamic to 2 parts olive oil as fast and hard as you can. This will create a thick emulsion with a syrupy texture. Season with salt, pepper, and drizzle over the salad. Toss and top the entire insalata with the toasted breadcrumbs. Buon Appetito!
Crunchy lettuce with a slight roasted quality tossed with sweet, carmelized pears, fatty and rich mortadella, sugary balsamic, fruity olive oil and crunchy bread crumbs…c’mon. Hands down – best salad I’ve ever had.
“You crazy with this one, Paulie!” You said it J.
Paulie’s Spark Notes: 1. Grill some lettuce 2. Grill some other stuff 3. Toss it around 4. Go to town