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Seared Romaine Hearts Gratin with Bacon, Zesty Vinaigrette

seared-romaine02

Ingredients

  • 2 Romaine lettuce hearts
  • extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
  • 4 strips bacon, cut into matchstick strips
  • 6 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese

Dressing

  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • freshly milled black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, or anchovy paste, as preferred
  • 1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
  • 7 tablespoons high quality extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

First make the dressing: In a small bowl, use a fork to mash the garlic, salt, and pepper together. Blend in the mustard, vinegar, and olive oil. Taste it and adjust for seasoning. Set aside, removing whole garlic before serving.To sear the Romaine indoors, select a heavy, cast iron ribbed grill pan for stove-top grilling. Alternatively, use a broiler pan for indoor broiling. For outdoor cooking, prepare a fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill. Preheat the grill pan, broiler pan, or outdoor grill rack over high heat. Use a vegetable peeler or mandolin to shave the cheese into paper-thin slices. Remove the loose, floppy, dark outer leaves from the Romaine hearts but leave the cores intact. Cut each heart in half lengthwise and brush lightly on both sides with olive oil. Transfer the four halves to the hot grill pan, broiler pan, or outdoor grill rack, laying them cut side down over medium heat. If broiling, place the pan 5 inches below the heat. Sear until they are wilted and have char marks on their surface, 2-3 minutes on each side. Take care not to burn them. Remove from direct heat at once. Drizzle a teaspoon of the dressing over the cut surface of each heart. Lay the cheese shavings and bacon strips over their Romaine halves. Run them under a hot broiler or closed outdoor grill for a few moments, just until the cheese melts slightly, about 10 seconds. Serve at once with additional dressing on the side. Serve at once, or lukewarm.

Serves 4