I have to let you in on a little secret. Sometimes a delicious lunch doesn’t require a degree in rocket science. I know, it’s shocking! (Is there even such a thing as a degree in rocket science?)
This week I had strawberries, red leaf lettuce, and mint in my CSA. There were several other things, of course, but these three just seemed destined to buddy up together and form a tasty salad. The refreshing mint and the slightly tart strawberries were just begging to be served together. I thought about making them into a dessert, but then the red leaf lettuce sidled up alongside and the last piece clicked into place.
The thing is, basic lettuce salad is boring. An easy way to spruce it up? Cut that head of lettuce in half, drizzle it with olive oil, and grill it! Romaine is ideal for this method, but any lettuce will do, particularly if the head of lettuce is long and thin (as opposed to iceberg, which probably wouldn’t do too well here). When you grill lettuce, is takes on a much more interesting, multi-dimensional flavor. It’s slightly smoky and a little bit sweet.
The final touch on this salad is a drizzle of a good quality balsamic vinegar. It ties together the smoky grilled flavor of the lettuce with the sweet-tart strawberries and helps tip this more into the savory category. Good stuff.
Strawberries are undeniably beautiful, delicious, and filled with fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients (that’s right!). Also? If you get in-season strawberries they will knock your socks off compared to the mid-winter grocery store rubbish. I promise.
Grilled Salad with Strawberries and Mint (serves 2)
- 1 head romaine or red leaf lettuce, damaged outer leaves removed
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- six ripe strawberries, tops cut off, sliced
- handful of mint leaves, thinly sliced
- freshly ground pepper
- balsamic vinegar for drizzling
1. Preheat grill pan over high heat.
2. Cut the head of lettuce in half length-wise, leaving the core in tact to hold everything together. Drizzle the cut side of each half with half a teaspoon of olive oil, then sprinkle lightly with salt. Place cut-side down on the preheated grill pan. Then drizzle the other sides with the remaining olive oil. After about one minute, flip the lettuce halves over with tongs and cook on the other side for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
3. Place a lettuce half on each plate, cut side up. Arrange strawberry slices and mint over the lettuce, then season to taste with ground pepper. (Don’t be shy, the strawberries will thank you). Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.