I’ve become obsessed with grilling. When I was in my late teens and early twenties I loved to grill! But once I met Jamison I didn’t grill as much because he’s very picky about how his food is prepared and hates being outside.
I know, I know! Have I mentioned lately my culinary skills are lost on him?
Anyway, I’m becoming snarky at my old age of 37 and I’ve decided by golly I’m going to grill more often and I have been! I like to grill in the spring, fall and winter, because I’m also not so keen on the heat during the summer. I don’t want to stand over a scorching grill when it’s 90+ degrees outside. But really that’s neither here nor there in the grand scheme of this salad, so we’ll move on.
I started thinking about making a grilled salad. The idea of warm salads intrigues me, but up until this point I had not had a warm salad that I actually cared for. I like potato salad warm occasionally, right after it’s been made, but that isn’t really what you think about when you think about a salad.
I’ve heard of people grilling lettuce chunks before, but that didn’t really appeal to me. I might try it someday, but for this I wanted more hearty/sturdy vegetables and definitely bread. What’s not to like about bread?
I also decided I wanted some sort of grilled seafood added to the mix. Alexis and I both love shrimp and lobster so I decided to go with one of those. I had some lobster tails in the freezer so that ended up being what I went with this night. Our local store puts them on sale occasionally for $3 to $5 for a nice sized tail, so when they do I buy a few and freeze them for later use.
The lobster is really a great grilling “fish” because of its shell. You don’t have to worry about putting it on a cedar plank because it will flake away on the grill like you would with a fillet of fish. When it’s a bright red color it’s ready to go! This usually takes 15-20 minutes depending on the heat of your grill.
So after I had the idea I started chopping and this is what resulted. This is a perfect summer time dinner that doesn’t take a lot of time, but you end up with a really fabulous result. My kind of dinner!
What You’ll Need for the Salad:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tomatoes cut in half
1 small package of button or baby Portabella mushrooms
1-2 bell peppers, cut into big chunks
2 carrots, cut into thick sticks
1 large zucchini, cut into big chunks
1 large red onion, cut into thick strips
1/2 loaf of day old french or Callah bread, cut into cubes
1-2 lobster tails
First mix up your dressing and set aside:
See the recipe below for the dressing. Shake again really well before adding to the salad.
Then sprinkle your veggies with a little sea salt and pepper and then toss with some extra virgin olive oil to thinly coat:
Next sprinkle your cubes of bread with sea salt and toss with a little olive oil as well:
Now we’re ready for the fun part…Grilling!
I like to use natural charcoal. It gives the food such a wonder flavor and it doesn’t have any of the weird chemicals in them that many other brands do. I like to use Stubb’s. They don’t have their charcoal listed on their website, but I’ve found it at Lowe’s.
Now to use a charcoal chimney or not?
I really love the ease of use of a charcoal chimney. You don’t need lighter fluid, which is again an accelerant and who wants to add that to your food, because if you’re cooking over it your food is absorbing whatever is burning underneath it.
I don’t think that a charcoal chimney holds enough charcoal to actually cook something well. I like a lot of coals going beneath my food. So lately I’ve been using brown craft paper spread throughout the coals to use as “wicks” if you will and splash a little PGA on top of the coals to get it going. Be careful if you’re using the pure grain alcohol because that stuff ignites fast and big!
Once your coals are hot you’re ready to start grilling!
I like to do the “sturdier” vegetables first. The softer the vegetable is the faster it will grill. You also want to get your lobster tails on first as well. The bread will come last.
So you grill and flip:
And grill and flip:
And grill and flip some more:
As you can see some of my veggies “jumped” into the grill because I was careless when turning them. The bigger the chunk of vegetable, the less likely you are to lose it through the slits of the grill. Live and learn as they say. Or maybe in this case it would be do and learn.
When things become done you’ll remove them to a plate or platter and set them aside until the other aspects of the salad become done:
When you grill the bread be careful. Each side will literally grill in 30 seconds or less over direct coals!
Once everything is grilled it’s time to assemble your salad!
First place the bread in the bottom of a bowl:
Next cut the grilled tomatoes into wedges and then add to the bread:
And then the mushrooms:
And the bell peppers:
And then add the carrots and roughly chop the lobster meat and add to the bowl as well:
Finally sprinkle the veggies with some Parmesan:
And some of the dressing (see recipe below):
And it’s ready to toss!
Now dig in and enjoy!
Notes on the Salad: As I mentioned above you could use shrimp in place of the lobster or even a cedar grilled salmon would be great too. I sometimes like to serve this with extra grilled vegetables as you can see in the picture at the top of the entry. You could also use grilled squash or cherry tomatoes, or whatever you like in place of, or in addition to what I used.
What You’ll Need for the Dressing:
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of balsamic or champagne vinegar
A pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon of dried Italian Seasoning mix
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried basil
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
Add all ingredients to a glass jar. Put on an air tight lid and shake until mixed. Use to toss the salad.
Notes on the Dressing: You can use either type of vinegar that you like. I like to use balsamic when I want a bigger flavor punch. I use champagne when I want it a more delicate flavor.