Sunday, May 20, 2012

eat yer greens, grilled

A beautiful day to lounge in the backyard
while cooking and sipping wine.

 I don't know what possessed me. Perhaps it was the bubbly wine getting to my head, but with the grill fired up and ready to go I had a notion to try cooking a head of iceberg lettuce. Iceberg is a rarity in my house to begin with. I have long ago given it up for more interestingly flavored varieties of greens. But for a burst of watery crunch, with a resilient body that holds up to dressings, iceberg can't be beat.

I also happened to have a wedge of Napa cabbage bumming around my fridge so I decided to grill that too. What the heck.

To round out this spontaneous mish-mash of ingredients I rummaged around for a few mangoes to get the singe treatment as well.
I did not want to over cook the two greens (pale, pale greens I might add,) I just wanted to get a few gentle grill marks and capture some smokey flavor.  Keeping the greens in large chunks made them easier to manipulate with tongs over a hot grill. The mangoes got sliced, with the skin still on, along the line of the pit.
Hot off the grill I decided to chop everything up into a large one inch dice and make a tossed salad with the pieces. I don't know what I was expecting, but I was very pleasantly pleased with the results. The iceberg took on a depth of flavor I never would have imagined. It tasted more like escarole, but with a fresh watery texture.
I finished the salad off with a toss of fresh herbs from the garden and a sprinkle of chive blossoms. For dressing - a splash of good sherry vinegar and extra virgin olive oil will more than suffice. I was really surprised and pleased at this improvised experiment. The salad had a complexity of texture and taste with the subtle smokiness I was looking for. The mango's sweetness perfectly combined with the mild bitterness of the greens. So there you go iceberg, you can hold your own!

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