Jun 9, 2014

Cooked lettuce? A strange and yet age-old concept. My grandma used to make a stew which for ages I thought she called souffle (it’s actually called fricassee) made with pork and lettuce. Whatever you call it, there’s something quite satisfyingly perverse about putting a delicate leaf over a hot flame…

Grilled little gems, green goddess sauce

A few years ago I was spending some time in LA, specifically in Westwood where my brother was doing medical treatment at UCLA. We mainly hung around Westwood Village and quickly cycled through the three decent places to eat there. Getting bored of pizza, bibimbap and Trader Joe’s ready meals, one day I stumbled across fundamental LA and instantly realised it was no ordinary sandwich shop. Oh no. I’m pretty sure their chicken torta would have a high place at the table for any sandwich appreciator. As far as I could deduce, they slow cook the dark meat only and then they put it on a hot flat griddle to crisp up. The bread was hardy enough to sop up all the (many) juices, did not fall apart, but was not a jaw work out either. Pillowy. This sandwich eaten 2+ years ago was certainly an event.

But this is a post about salad, not sandwiches. (I will make that sandwich one day though, oh yes I will.) This place in LA had a grilled romaine salad special with ‘green goddess dressing’. It was certainly very green but beyond that I’m not sure. Anyway I had lettuce, and a bunch of green stuff, so I figured I would have a go at recreating it, in honour of the LA-esque weather we’ve been enjoying…

Indeed, it’s summertime here in London and that means one thing for the British: the BBQ. We don’t have a bbq but we can still have the affectation, and so we grill things in our kitchen. I love grilling greens, especially delicate things like lettuce or endive. There’s something quite satisfyingly perverse about putting a delicate leaf over a hot flame.

the lettuce

Grilling lettuce is the easy bit. Cut it in quarters length-wise, trying to keep a bit of the core to hold the leaves together. Dunk them in cold water for a soak to get any grit out. You may want to do this a couple times depending on how muddy your leaves are. Drain then sprinkle salt and some olive oil, and rub all over. Put them cut side down over a hot griddle and turn the extractor fan on. Leave for a couple minutes until you get those groovy black grill marks then flip over to the other cut side.

the green goddess

Mine turned out more a sauce than a dressing. Take a hearty handful of fresh mint and corriander leaves and blend them with an avocado (I had a slightly crappy underripe one which was a perfect sacrifice to the blender), a decent squeeze of lime juice (half a lime at least) and some salt. Blend until the avo is smooth but the herbs are still a bit coarse. Add the pickled mustard seeds with their brine. Taste for seasoning and add more acid or salt if needed. Pour over the wilted greens or serve on the side as a dip.

Serves: 2

Cooking/Prep time: 20 minutes


  • 2 little gem lettuces
  • 1 avocado
  • a handful of fresh mint and coriander each
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 c pickled mustard seeds or 1tsp dijon mustard and 1/4c rice wine vinegar
  • pickled red peppers, thinly sliced to garnish


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