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Grab your salad knife

| 30 Aug 2016 | 04:48

Some salads require a light touch — tender leafy lettuce gently torn and tossed with a light vinaigrette. Others need a heavier hand, like the textured leaves of lacinato kale that benefit from a tenderizing massage to become palatable. Eating a variety of raw greens keeps things interesting, but raw is not the only way to enjoy a salad. Simply grilling a head of ordinary romaine elevates it to another level of flavor. The heat softens and caramelizes the outside leaves and imparts a smokiness not usually associated with lettuce. And romaine’s sturdy compact head and structure make it an excellent candidate for the direct heat of the grill. It takes just minutes, so keep watch and turn frequently until lightly charred. For crunch I’ve sprinkled the salad with protein packed herb roasted chickpeas, an addictive and healthy snack in their own right.

The dish is finished with garlicky vinaigrette emulsified with vegan mayo and Dijon mustard, but you can substitute the dressing of your choice and even add other grilled veggies to the mix.

There’s no need to hide this salad between the rims of a bowl – dish it out on your best plate and dive in with a knife and fork. Grill a few slices of lemon and squeeze the warm juice over the salad for freshness.

No grill? No worries – a grill pan works, too.

Grilled romaine salad with crispy chickpeas

1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas, dried thoroughly

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

½ teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl combine chickpeas with olive oil, rosemary and salt. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown, shaking pan at 10 minute intervals. Remove from heat. These taste best when served warm.

Garlic vinaigrette

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons vegan mayo

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon capers without brine

Salt and pepper.

Place garlic in a small bowl. Add mustard and mayo, whisking until combined. Drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified. Whisk in apple cider, capers, salt and pepper to taste.

Grilled romaine

4 heads romaine lettuce (green and/or red)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lemon

Remove the outer leaves of the romaine. Cut each head lengthwise, leaving the stem intact. Trim the tops, rinse and dry thoroughly.

Brush with olive oil and place on a heated, oiled grill, turning frequently until slightly charred on all sides. Cut the lemon in half-inch slices, brush with oil and grill until lightly browned.

To assemble the salad place the grilled lettuce on plates, top with crispy chickpeas, lemon slices and drizzle with vinaigrette.