Tuesday, June 8, 2010
So most of you know that I'm originally from the Midwest, specifically, Michigan. I am and always will be a Michigander! But home now is here in the South and I wouldn't have it any other way....there are so many incredible things that I love about living the Southern life!
That said, I do have some favorite things in Michigan that will always hold a special place in my heart! If you've never been, West Michigan in particular, is one of the best places to live (and visit)! I know I'm a little biased but it's great for young people, for older people and families alike. Grand Rapids is fun and vibrant and filled with great culture - it gives you a big city feel without actually being in a huge, overwhelmingly large city. You can drive 10 minutes out and be in the country and you're just a quick drive away from the lake shore with the beautiful picturesque Lake Michigan and all that it's beaches and quaint little lake towns have to offer!
Like any larger area, there are definitely places very worth your while in checking out, specifically to dine! To name a few: San Chez, Leo's, Seoul Garden, Vitale's and Republic. Republic is newer to the area but has already made it's mark and will continue to thrive downtown. The food is fantastic, the atmosphere isn't stuffy but rather filled with great conversation and laughter and the drinks speak for themselves! If you ever get the opportunity to visit, you should definitely check them out! Have a cucumber martini on me (they're the best)! For not being an Asian restaurant, their sushi is to impress and the sea scallops.....ahhhh-mazing! But my favorite thing to get there is a salad. Yes, a salad. But a grilled salad, nonetheless! They grill romaine hearts to perfection and serve them halved with candied walnuts, feta cheese and a smoky tomato basil vinaigrette....my mouth is watering as I type!
I wanted to recreate this phenomenal dish and thought it would pair perfectly with our Classic Beef Kabobs. I did it a little bit differently, using ingredients we already had, but the flavors were still there and it was oh, so good! Chris even liked it, which I was pleasantly surprised by - I wasn't sure how he'd feel about "grilled lettuce!"
The depth of flavors that you get from this dish is incomparable to anything I've ever had - the smokiness from the romaine, the saltiness of the feta, the sweet crunch from the candied pecans paired with a homemade tomato and sweet basil vinaigrette was divine...absolutely divine!
Grilled Romaine Salad
2 Hearts of Romaine, cut in half length-wise
Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 cup Pecans, chopped
5 Tbsp. Sugar
Tomato Basil Vinaigrette
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until toasted (about 5 minutes). Let cool.
Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As sugar begins to melt, start stirring more frequently until it caramelizes and turns golden-amber in color (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and add in the toasted pecans and toss them into the sugar mixture until all pieces are coated evenly. Carefully spread the candied pecans back onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, using 2 forks to help separate the larger clumps. Let cool completely.
Preheat grill to med-high heat. Brush a small amount of olive oil on the cut side of each romaine heart. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place each romaine heart, cut-side down, onto the grill and let cook for approximately 90 seconds. Remove from heat and sprinkle cheese and pecans generously over each romaine heart. Drizzle with dressing and serve warm.
Yield: 4 Servings
Source: With a Cherry on Top original