Toasty Winter Grilled Salad with "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Complicated" Dressing

Honey, it’s cold outside. I love a good salad, but in this kind of weather I never feel satisfied unless I’m eating something warm. I decided on taking the health benefits of a nice big salad of greens and adding one special item: the grill. Grilling romaine brings out it’s natural sweetness and when complimented with warm homemade croutons and a nice tart dressing—well, it hits the spot and warms the belly. So, a-la-plancha! Throw it on the barbie! Grill pans out, and dig in!

Salad:

Equal parts:

  • romaine hearts
  • baby spinach
  • garden mix
  • 1/4 section french bread
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T european style butter (recommended: Plugra)
  • 2-3 slices Black Forrest Ham (skip if veggie and please see ham note below*)

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (recommended: Lucini Italia)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t whole grain mustard
  • 1 1/2 t dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 t organic mayo
  • 1 1/2 t agave
  • juice from 1/4 lemon
  • 1/2 shallot, finely diced
  • pinch dried oregano
  • pinch dried thyme
  • fresh ground pepper
  • fresh ground sea salt

For salad:

Toss the romaine leaves with roughly 2 T extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt until evenly coated. Heat a grill pan on medium/high heat and place the leaves horizontal to the grill lines. Leave untouched for 2-3 minutes. Test leaves looking for some nice black grill lines. Flip and leave for roughly 2-3 minutes or until marked. Remove leaves and cut into inch pieces.

Cut your french bread into 1/2 inch slices and coat both sides with a light layer of butter. Place the bread on the already heated grill pan (leave the olive oil from before). Toast for 3-5 minutes each side, paying close attention not to burn. Remove from heat and cut into rugged bite-size pieces.

For ham: Place 2-3 slices of ham on the heated grill pan and leave for one minute on each side or until heated through with the beginning of grill lines. Remove from heat and slice into inch pieces.

Place spinach, garden mix and grilled romaine into a large salad bowl. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over the leaves and toss well. Sprinkle in croutons and ham. Serve and bundle up!

For dressing:

Place olive oil, both vinegar's and both mustards into an empty mason jar. Finely dice your shallot and empty into jar. Give a good mix with a fork. Add lemon juice, oregano, thyme, agave, mayo, salt and pepper. If you have a lid for your mason jar, screw on tightly and do a little cha-cha with it. Otherwise, whip well with spoon until mayo is completely incorporated into the dressing.

note: I prefer to make this dressing a few hours or a day ahead of time to really like all the flavors socialize. Not necessary, but quite lovely for the perfect tang.

*note on ham: If you have the resources, be very careful of where you buy your meat. It’s a conscious choice to be a carnivore, so it pays to be thoughtful in the treatment of the animal you consume. I’m a big fan of the brand Applegate. Their animals are humanely raised (raised on sustainable family farms in stress-free environment that promotes natural behavior and socialization) and is antibiotic free. Check them out if you can or look for something similar.

image via Zach Heffner / Verdict Photography

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