Grilled Lettuces

Grilled Lettuces
Excerpted from The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy's Farmhouse Kitchens by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (Scribner, 1999). Copyright 1999 by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

Serves 2 to 3; doubles easily

1 head Bibb lettuce
1 head romaine lettuce
1 head curly endive or escarole
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges or wine vinegar

1. Discard any bruised outer lettuce leaves. Keep the heads intact as you wash them by immersing in a sinkful of cold water. Cut each into quarters. Wash again if the insides

2. Spread the wedges of greens on a platter, cut side up, and sprinkle lightly with olive oil and the garlic, turning to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. To cook the lettuces on an outdoor grill, burn the coals until they're covered with gray ash. Have the rack about 4 inches from the coals. Grill the lettuces over the hot coals, turning them to be sure the edges of their outer leaves become flecked with brown. Then shift them on the grill to cook farther away from the hottest coals. Once they're browned but still crisp at their centers, remove from the grill. To cook them on the stove top, heat a large griddle, ridged pan, or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Arrange the lettuces about an inch apart (do in two batches if necessary) in the pan and brown on all sides. Then lower the heat and cook about 5 minutes. The greens should be caramelized at their edges but still somewhat crisp at their centers. Remove from the heat and taste for salt and pepper.

4. Arrange the wedges of greens on a platter and serve warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with lemon or wine vinegar at the table.

THOUGHTS FROM LYNNE

These Grilled Lettuces can cook along side the chicken or be done just before and served at room temperature. Taking the mild and tart greens we usually tear into a salad bowl and lightly caramelizing them over heat opens up a whole new taste experience. It's the green salad that can be done ahead and will not wilt while waiting to go to the table.