Grilling root vegetables enhances the taste of those veggies, and the same will happen to leafy vegetables like lettuce, on a more delicate scale. Try these Grilled Little Gem Lettuce with Blue Cheese Dressing for a delicious light meal.
Little gem lettuce is a cute lettuce variety that you can incorporate in your weekly menu in many ways. My favorite way is to cut it in half, grill it and serve it with a dressing and toppings. The heads are often small enough that you can use the head cut in half or sometimes even the entire head and dip them in your favorite concoction, with or without grilling.
You can see in the image above that the heads are small, pretty tight. The Little Gem looks like a romaine lettuce, is as crisp as a romaine but is less bitter. The leaves are softer and sweeter; the characteristics of a butter lettuce. It’s clearly a cross between romaine and butter lettuce.
What do you need for this recipe:
- Heads of little gem lettuce
- Olive oil
- Bacon or pancetta
- Blue cheese
- Sour cream
- Lemon juice
- Salt & pepper
How to make Grilled Little Gem Lettuce with Blue Cheese Dressing
Start with the dressing and bacon, because grilling the lettuce will not take a lot of time but will need your full attention.
Blue Cheese Dressing: Mix most of the blue cheese with the mayo, sour cream, buttermilk, lemon juice and salt and pepper until smooth. Keep some blue cheese for final sprinkling.
Bacon or pancetta: Bake the bacon or pancetta to a crisps. Many people with a little oil in a skillet and then add the bacon. I prefer to start without oil, at a low temperature, and when the fat starts rendering out, turn up the heat and bake until your desired level of crispness. Keep warm if you like or cool down on a paper towel.
Little Gem Lettuce: Heat a grill pan or grill. Cut the gem lettuce heads in half and brush them with a little bit of olive oil and grill on both sides. Grill until cut size is lightly charred and other side until it is warm.
Garnish: Place two halves of the gem lettuce on each plate, pour dressing on top and garnish with tomato halves, chopped parsley, blue cheese and bacon.
This recipe works well because of the flavor/texture combinations
- Crunchy lettuce and crispy bacon, in combination with creamy dressing.
- Sweet grilled lettuce in combination with the sharpness of blue cheese. How sharp you want your blue cheese depends on the type of blue you use. Try a Roquefort if you like it sharp, or a Point Reyes Original Blue or Maytag Blue if you want a more subdued blue experience.
- Warm to luke-warm lettuce and bacon in combination with cold dressing and tomatoes and parsley.
It goes without saying that little gem lettuce deserves a spot as a delicious salad alternative. If you like to grill it, as I did, or as a raw variety.
Alternative toppings you can apply are:
- Raw, pickled or caramelized onion
- Feta cheese instead of blue cheese.
- Another type of dressing, like ranch, honey-mustard or thousand island
Grilled Little Gem Lettuce with Blue Cheese Dressing
- 4 heads gem lettuce cut in halves, lengthwise
- olive oil
- 2.5 ounces pancetta cubed
- 4 ounces mini grape tomatoes halved
- parsley chopped
Blue Cheese Dressing
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 ounces blue cheese crumbled, leave some for garnish
- salt and pepper
- Transfer the cubed pancetta to a skillet and cook until crispy. Start at a low temperature to allow the fat to render, then increase temperature to get the crisp you want.
- Mix all the ingredients for the dressing and mix until smooth. Either by hand or with a blender.
- Heat a grill pan (to get nice grill marks) or a grill or a skillet and grill/bake the lettuce halves (cut side down) a few minutes until lightly charred.
- Transfer lettuce halves onto plates and pour some of the dressing over the lettuce.
- Garnish with tomatoes, pancetta, parsley and