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Charred Romaine with Tomatillo Dressing

The last 3 weeks have been a bit of a hiatus, with lots of traveling, eating out a lot, and little time to cook. I did lug the September Issue with me to the East coast and back, which is less style and more top new restaurants. I kept going back to a recipe from the chef of the #1 restaurant this year, Rose's Luxury.

Warmed salads are fantastic. I've made charred romaine hearts before to the tune of very different flavors: caramelized red onions, blue cheese, balsamic reduction, glazed walnuts. The Mexican flavor profile of this recipe piqued my interest.

This recipe is pretty similar to the original, with modifications to further draw out flavors and make it more detox-friendly. I used a grill pan for the romaine but if you have a flame grill, use that! Next time I’d top it with toasted pepita seeds. If you eat dairy crumble some fresh mexican cheese (like cotija, or panela), or feta over the romaine heart.

The tomatillo dressing is very versatile so store leftovers. I used mine for days, in everything from mexicanized-eggs Benedict to a dip for crudités.

Tomatillo Dressing Ingredients:

1/3 medium white onion, quartered

2 medium tomatillos, husk removed

1 jalapeño

1 garlic clove

¼ avocado, chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (~1/2 medium lime)

kosher salt

Salad Ingredients:

1 poblano chile

1 head of romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed, halved lengthwise

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 avocado, chopped in squares

fresh lime juice from 1/2 medium lime

2 tablespoons of hemp seeds, for topping

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro stems, for topping

freshly ground salt and pepper

Start by preparing the dressing. Roast jalapeño and unpeeled clove of garlic over medium heat on a dry skillet, turning around, until blackened all over. Set aside.

Bring tomatillos, onion and 2 cups of water to boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat, simmer until onion is very tender, about 6-8 minutes. Let cool and drain, reserving cooking liquid.

Purée tomatillo onion mixture with charred jalapeño (cut and remove seeds if sensitive to spice), peeled roasted garlic, avocado, and cilantro leaves in blender. With motor running, slowly drizzle oil and 2 tablespoons of cooking liquid. Blend until smooth and combined. Add lime juice and season with salt.

While tomatillos simmer, roast poblano peppers in same skillet as jalapeño over medium high heat, or on a grill. Sweat, peel and de-vein (read this post for detailed instructions). Chop into small squares; set aside.

Using same skillet, heat over medium-high heat. Drizzle cut sides of romaine with oil and season with salt. Grill cut-side down on skillet (or on a grill) until charred, about 3-4 minutes. Turn and grill other side just until warmed through, about 45 seconds.

Spoon dressing onto plates and top with romaine, charred side up. Top with chopped poblano, hemp seeds and avocado. Drizzle with lime juice, and season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Scatter chopped cilantro stems on top.

Serves 2

charred romaine and tomatillo salsa, close up

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