Grilled Romaine with Roquefort Crumble and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

(Oct. 1, 2021) There is nothing tastier than a delicious salad. Crisp lettuce, a few veggies and a tasty dressing are the basic components for the popular course.

While this statement has validity, it does not encompass the possibility of ingenuity. Straightforwardness should not be flavored with conventionalism.

Taste, visual appeal and creativity are the key to distinction. With that thought in mind, let us take a look at the thought process for developing a unique salad.

The type of lettuce is crucial to the theme of your salad. Arugula, Batavia, Bibb, Boston, cabbage, dandelion, endive, frisee, kale, leaf, mache, mesclun, radicchio, and Romaine are just a sampling.

Options add to individualism and enhances one’s ability to stand out.

Just because you own a salad spinner does not mean you are washing your greens properly. Soak the lettuce in cold water and ice.

Cold water cleans the lettuce while ice crisps it. Then, place the lettuce in a salad spinner to remove any water.

In addition, as you go to store your washed lettuce, layer the leaves with paper towels as a final way to ensure there is no moisture.

Any excess liquid will cause your lettuce to deteriorate faster than the normal decaying process.

Roasting raw vegetables can change their composition and give you a completely different dish. Carrots, mushrooms, broccoli and turnips are just a sampling of the vast choices one has.

Pickling is another way to infuse piquancy. Pickled chilies, cucumbers, red onions, beets, corn, mushrooms and raisins can elevate the flavor profile to new heights. Do not be afraid to think out of the box.

Contrast can be your best friend. If the salad is primarily crunchy, add something soft. If it skews sweet, add a salty or bitter component.

Croutons add texture and zest. Consider toasted nuts or seeds as a topper. Walnuts, pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are a few suggestions.

But if one is a traditionalist, make your own croutons. They are much better than packaged croutons and can be personalized for any type of salad.

We cannot discuss salads without approaching the subject of salad dressings. While there is nothing wrong with bottled dressings, try your hand at making your own dressing. Three parts of oil to one part acid is the basic rule. Rice vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, honey, yogurt, and miso are some tasty alternatives.

Should one serve a salad in a bowl or on a plate? A plate allows the beauty of the salad to come through and is the preferred choice. Build height whenever possible for a more dramatic look.

Fall is officially here and a grilled Romaine salad with crumbled Roquefort and a warm bacon vinaigrette is a great starter for the chillier weather.

Specifics equate a better understanding; should one use Roquefort or blue cheese.

Blue cheese is actually a broad category of cheese. It is called “blue” because of the distinct blue veins it contains.

Roquefort is a type of blue cheese. It got its name from the Penecillium Roqueforte, the specific mold intentionally added to it for distinction purposes. There are many types of blue cheese and personal preference is one’s guide.

Should one incorporate thick or regular sliced bacon into the salad is another consideration. Grilled Romaine lettuce and Roquefort cheese are bold flavors, so one might opt for the thicker bacon.

Entertaining is about the element of surprise. Grilled Romaine with crumbled Roquefort and warm bacon vinaigrette is a tasty salad that pairs beautifully with the change of season. Remember, predictability should never be on one’s menu. Enjoy!

Grilled Romaine with Roquefort Crumble and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Ingredients

8 strips of thick sliced bacon, plus 1 teaspoon of bacon drippings

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the lettuce

4 ounces Roquefort, crumbled

2 small heads of Romaine lettuce

1 large Roma tomato, finely diced

1. In a medium sauté pan, cook bacon until crispy. Once bacon has cooled, chop and set aside. Reserve 1 teaspoon of bacon drippings for the vinaigrette.

2. In a small bowl, whisk bacon drippings, red wine, honey, mustard and salt. Slowly drizzle olive oil into the bacon drippings mixture. Keep whisking until the vinaigrette has emulsified.

3. Preheat grill to high heat. Make sure the grill grates are clean. Brush the outside of each head of lettuce with olive oil.

Place the lettuce on the grill until a slight char is achieved, approximately 3 minutes. Turn the lettuce over and repeat this process for the other side.

4. Warm vinaigrette slightly in the microwave, add bacon, and drizzle over the Romaine lettuce. Top with crumbled Roquefort, chopped tomatoes and a dusting of freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Secret Ingredient – Appetizer. “While eating your appetizer, don’t be concerned with dessert.”

– Wayne Dyer

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