Grilled lettuce and asparagus with feta cheese

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Probably the last asparagus of the season, as they are slowing disappearing from the supermarket shelves. So many recipes, so little time… Nevertheless,  I wish I had tried this one dish before. As easy as it seems, it is a very sophisticated plate of salad. And, these days, nothing seems as satisfying as the flavour of grilled asparagus, with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled liberally with salt… Happy moments in an ever so stressing last stretch before the summer break.

Grilled lettuce and asparagus with feta cheese (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • About 500g asparagus
  • 4 little gem lettuces
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Around 100g of feta cheese

Method

Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and drop the spears into the boiling water. Blanch for a minute or two, until al dente. Remove from the fire and then drain. Let cool aside and pat with a tea towel until dry.

Meanwhile, cut the lettuces in half down the middle, leaving them joined at the root end. Add two tablespoons of olive oil, season generously and toss to coat, working the oil and seasoning into the lettuces a little with your hands.

Heat a ridged griddle pan or heavy-based frying pan until very hot. Add the lettuce halves cut-side down, cook for two minutes until golden brown and wilted on the base, then turn over and cook for a minute or two more. Remove from the pan and put on a serving dish.

Now add the asparagus to the frying pan and cook for about four minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and patched with brown. Put together with the lettuce.

Crumble the goat cheese and arrange over the grilled grennies. Sprinkle with a little more oil and serve at once. Serve while warm.


Grilled lettuce hearts with a mint vinaigrette

Grilling lettuces hearts might sound like a cardinal sin. However, if you are bored of eating lettuce with a traditional dressing, this is a very, very, very easy  to do dish with surprising results. Serve either as an appetizer or a side dish.

Grilled lettuce hearts with a mint vinaigrette  (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)

Ingredients 

  • the leaves of 8 springs of fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon of   mustard 
  • 1 tablespoon of cherry vinegar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 lettuce hearts, cut in half lengthways and seasoned with salt and pepper

Method

To make the vinaigrette, put the mints leaves  in a tall beaker. Then, drop in the mustard, the vinegar, the egg yolk and one portion of the olive oil. Start mixing with a hand held blender. Add the olive oil bit by bit, without stopping the blender. It is done when the mint looks chopped, right before it starts to convert into a mayonnaise (be careful not to over do it). Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the surface of a large frying pain (or a grilling one) with olive oil, and heat it. Drop in the lettuce heart and let them fry over medium heat until they are golden on both sides (it will take about 5 minutes). Once out  of the pan, cut them half lengthways again.

Put the 4 wedges on a plate and poor the vinaigrette on top it. Serve while warm.