Grilled Romaine & Blue Cheese Salad with Warm Vinaigrette

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It's a frigid, white winter, so who feels like eating salad?  Not me, Answered everyone.

But getting your greens even in wintertime is essential. The inspiration for this salad came by way of my muse, AKA my sister Jill, who loves herself a good Wedge Salad and who would be joining us for dinner that night.  I only had a few ingredients to work with but all the ones she loves; lettuce, onions and blue cheese.  So I got thinking about how to bring in the warmth because it was way too nippy for a cold, crisp salad, and no way was iceberg lettuce entering my house.  I hate to be snooty but well, I am.  If you are going to make the effort to eat lettuce go one step further and buy one with actual nutrients.  (Let me just clarify my sister's iceberg indulgence.  She doesn't buy that kind of lettuce, but does enjoy ordering that Wedge thing in a restaurant. Guilty pleasure.)

As I step down off my soapbox, I'm here to confess that grilling lettuce is not my usual thing.  I have tried grilling radicchio and have found that it often increases the bitterness.  A bit too much bite for me.  But like I mentioned, we needed to eat salad of sorts and ingesting a cold dish was not in the cards.  So I harkened back to my idea of combining temperatures in a salad, only this time the actual lettuce was the one providing the hot.  I was also inspired to share this recipe since one of my readers told me that she was making my recipe for Salad: Hot & Cold to bring to a New Year's Eve party.  How great was that! My own little new year's cheer.

So here's my take on a Wedge Salad but one that warms your tummy and delivers more that just empty calories.

Ingredients
 

(Serves 4 as a side or 2 main)

2 Hearts of Romaine
2 scallions, sliced
3/4 c Blue cheese of your choice
2 small yellow onions, sliced
bacon, optional

For the dressing
1/3 c shallots, fine dice
1/3 c  olive oil
3 T fresh lemon juice
lemon zest

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First things first, get the slices of onion, seasoned with salt, pepper and drizzle of oil in a 400 degree oven. Let them get really roasted to bring out the earthy flavor.

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While the onions are in the oven, begin making the warm vinaigrette by sautéing the shallots in 2 T of oil.  Once softened, season with salt and pepper and add the remaining oil and heat slowly over a low flame.  Remove from heat and right before serving whisk in the lemon juice.

Cut the whole heads of romaine right down the middle keeping the core so they stay in tact.  Season with salt, pepper and oil and place them cut side down on the grill.  These will not take long. You only want to get some grill marks and warm them up, not completely cook or wilt them.

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All that is left to do is plate your salad.  On one platter, place the grilled romaine cut side up, top with the onions, sprinkle the slices scallions and dot with the lots cubes of blue cheese.  Jill and I agreed that more cheese the merrier we were.  Drizzle the warm dressing over top.

 Hearty bean, potato and escarole soup similar style to my Kale, Potato soup, recipe below 

Hearty bean, potato and escarole soup similar style to my Kale, Potato soup, recipe below 

So with a few ingredients roasted, grilled and warmed up you too can cozy up to a salad in the winter without chilling your insides.  Serve this, as I did,  with a hearty bean and escarole soup and kick the chill to the curb.  (Sure I could have amped this up by pouring my homemade blue cheese dressing on it, but thought we would keep the calorie count down. Maybe not so much for Jill, but for me.)

A few other recipes that are warm and would snuggle up nicely to this salad.

Kale, Potato, Lentil Soup
Loaded Potato - Healthy Style
Polenta Stuffed Peppers
Meaty Ragu

Now that my fears of grilling lettuce are over, maybe I'll give radicchio another chance to prove herself.

Happy Wintertime Grilling.

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