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The bartender had a heavy hand and the waiter was slow to return to out table. As a fortunate consequence, by the time we ordered dinner, Suzen and I were in a mood to experiment.

“Grilled hearts of romaine. Doesn’t that sound interesting?” Suzen asked.

“Oh sure,” I giggled.

We ordered, we ate, we liked. It can strike you as weird, but a grilled hearts of romaine salad can be just wonderful. Familiar, yet different, and oh so beautiful.

This version, from Just Grill This! by Sam Zien, includes lots of bacon so it can easily stand on its own as a main dish. Once you have grilled the lettuce, serve this quickly. Its brilliance comes from the vibrancy of its freshness.

The recipe calls for Parmesan cheese, perhaps in tribute to Caesar Salad. With that bacon, you have other options. In the picture above, you can see we went with a strong blue cheese.

Grilled Hearts of Romaine

Yield: serves 4


  • 2 hearts of romaine, basically a scaled-down version of the whole head
  • ⅓ cup of olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 16 slice cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 2 ripe medium tomatoes, diced
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Croutons


Preheat the grill to medium.

Slice a thin piece (¼ inch) off the core end of each romaine, just to clean it up. Then cut lengthwise down the middle of each romaine heart, making two equal halves.

Brush both sides of each half lightly with olive oil and place the cut side down on the grill. Grill only a couple of minutes, just until the leaves begin to wilt. Flip and repeat.

Remove from the grill and place the cut side up on the plate.

Sprinkle about a tablespoon of vinegar on each half, then drizzle with the olive oil.

Add the bacon and tomatoes, and then top with the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add croutons and serve immediately.

Source: Just Grill This! by Sam Zien