Unlike some other lettuce, Romaine packs more of a flavour punch. By itself, it can be bitter so finding a good way to prepare it always helps.
The first thing to remember is how to clean and prepare it. The first rule is to avoid using a knife to cut up lettuce and instead tear the leaves. When you tear the leaves, the cells stay in-tackt and separate from each other while a knife cuts the cells open. When you cut the cells open, that releases the moisture and flavour onto your knife and not in your mouth. So always tear your lettuce and don't cut it (with a few exceptions).
Second, give it a good rinse. Romaine is notorious for hiding little bits of grit in their leaves. Pre-soaking your lettuce in cold water with a spash of white vinegar will also help keep the lettuce crisp.
My favourite way of having Romaine is in a Caesar Salad. Let's forget pre-packaged dressing for now and make our own. It's not so hard to do and you just need to remember seven main ingredients:
- Salt & Pepper
- Parmesan Cheese
- Olive Oil
- Vinegar (preferably Apple Cider, White Wine, or lastly White Vinegar - Red Vinegars tend to overpower)
- One Raw Egg
- Worcestershire Sauce
Start by crushing the garlic in a garlic press. Add salt and pepper, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, the raw egg, olive oil, and vinegar. Use amounts you're comfortable with - after all, it's your dressing. Mix well. Add Parmesan cheese and mix until it's at the concistancy you like. Optionally, you can add a few diced anchovies as well. Once it's all mixed, dress your Romaine and it's an instant salad.
Play with the proportions a little. You may like more or less garlic depending on your taste and the quality of the garlic. I tend to use close to a 50/50 ratio of oil and vinegar, but some people prefer different amounts. Just remember the seven main ingredients and go from there.
Romaine on the BBQ?
For all the men out there (or meataterrian women) playing with the BBQ which believe salad isn't food, it's what food eats, here's another easy way to make Romain for those in the family that want some greenery with their BBQ. It's easy and it's delicious.
Start with a full head of Romaine Lettuce and cut it lengthwise into two halves (the exception to not using a knife). Give it a rinse, then a pat dry. Grab some olive oil and a brush and liberally brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with some salt. Put the Romaine on the BBQ roughly half way cooking your steaks (timing on the BBQ is always important). Once you start to see grill marks, give it a flip. You want to have tasty grilled spots but still keep the inner part of the lettuce crisp. Once cooked, move it to a plate. I usually put a spoonful of dressing both under and over the lettuce. Although I prefer blue cheese to compliment the grilled taste and the steak I usually serve it with, feel free to experiment with your favourite dressings. Half a head of Romaine serves one person.
So plant a few Romaine or Cos lettuce as they call them in the garden and enjoy a simple and easy salad or grilled Romaine for dinner. You can't beat home-grown.