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Summer is the time to grill up greens

We've been talking quite a bit about grilling this summer, everything from steaks and burgers to veggies and fruit. But one of the hottest culinary trends around right now is throwing something a little more unusual on the grill.

Lettuce.

Grilled salads are hot - and oh, so delicious.

I've raved about The Greenhouse, which has served an incredible grilled romaine salad at the annual Taste of Putnam this year and last, and have since seen similar creations on menus around Charleston, including at The Chop House, South Hills Market and Noah's.

Now, grilling your greens is Cooking Light magazine's "Idea of the Month" for August. The magazine says laying on a little smoke and char will lead to some seriously delicious results.

Use crisp heads such as romaine, endive or radicchio since lighter greens can't take the heat.

"Halve the heads, brush with olive oil and grill a couple of minutes per side," the magazine says. "Add a squeeze of lemon, or drizzle on your favorite dressing."

Super simple, yet surprisingly sophisticated.

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A recent press release from the spicy folks at McCormick also suggested elevating flavor without adding fat by firing up the grill to infuse garlic and basil into bell peppers, romaine, asparagus, tomatoes and mushrooms for a smoky riff on a classic salad.

Sounds good to me, so check out this week's recipe for Grilled Romaine & Vegetable Salad with Balsamic Herb Vinaigrette.

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West Virginia's own Smooth Ambler received another impressive national shout-out in the August issue of Food and Wine magazine. On the "Editors' Top Ten" list, the Lewisburg-area distillery's Old Scout Straight Rye Whiskey ranks as the No. 5 "object of our obsession" this month.

In making the distinction, Megan Krigbaum says, "Sweet-and-spicy Smooth Ambler is one of the best small-batch ryes I've tasted all year."

Woo-hoo!

Contact writer Steven Keith at dailymailfoodguy@aol.com or 304-348-4830. You can also follow him on Facebook and Pinterest as "DailyMail FoodGuy," on Twitter as "DMFoodGuy" or read his blog at http://blogs.dailymail.com/foodguy/.

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Grilled romaine and vegetable salad with balsamic herb vinaigrette

Salad:

2 heads romaine lettuce hearts, halved lengthwise

1 Tbsp. olive oil

10 asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup grape tomatoes

1 cup mushrooms, halved

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

Dressing:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. basil leaves

1 tsp. garlic powder

1. For the vinaigrette, mix all ingredients in a small bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Set aside.

2. Brush romaine lettuce lightly with some of the oil. Toss vegetables with remaining oil, garlic powder and onion powder in a large bowl. Place vegetable mixture in grill basket sprayed with no-stick cooking spray.

3. Grill vegetable mixture 10-12 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally. Grill lettuce over medium heat 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned, turning frequently.

4. Cut lettuce halves lengthwise in half. Place lettuce on individual plates, top with grilled vegetables and drizzle with vinaigrette.

 


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