Hugh's recipe calls for goat cheese and we have lovely local goat cheeses that I buy often, but tonight I happened to have leftover mild sheep milk feta in the fridge so I used that instead. The asparagus, baby romaine, cherry tomatoes, and opah are all local.
Hugh says, "Char-grilling is usually associated with meat, but it works wonders with vegetables, too, caramelizing their natural sugars and leaving them tender and deliciously bittersweet. I like to use a firm goat's cheese here, such as Woolsery English Goat, but any firm, not-too-pungent cheese would work well, or go for good old Parmesan."
Char-Grilled Baby Lettuce with Asparagus & Feta
Slightly Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall TheGuardian.com
About 1 lb asparagus
4 little gem or other baby lettuces
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
salt and freshly ground black pepper
around 3 oz firm, not-too-strong goat's cheese, or cheese of choice
Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and drop the spears into the boiling water. Blanch for a minute or two (depending on thickness), until al dente, then drain.
Meanwhile, cut the lettuces in half down the middle, leaving them joined at the root end. Put in a large bowl with the drained asparagus, add two tablespoons of olive oil, season generously and toss to coat, working the oil and seasoning into the lettuces a little with your hands.
Heat a ridged griddle pan or heavy-based frying pan until very hot. Add the lettuce halves cut-side down, cook for two minutes until golden brown and wilted on the base, then turn over and cook for a minute or two more. Transfer to a large, warmed serving platter.
Now add the asparagus to the pan and cook for about four minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and patched with brown. Arrange on the platter with the lettuce.
Thinly slice the cheese (or, if it's particularly crumbly, crumble it) and arrange over the griddled veg. Trickle with a little more oil and serve at once. Add some bread and this makes a great starter, but it's also a delicious side dish.
Notes/Results: This was such a good dinner! It was quick and easy to make--a pot for blanching the asparagus--needed in this case as the local asparagus was quite thick, and one grill pan for the lettuce, then the asparagus, and then the opah. I kept the opah simple--just salt, pepper, and a tiny sprinkle of smoked paprika grilled to perfection and served with lemon. It worked well with the sweet cherry tomatoes and the baby lettuce-asparagus mix. The grilling brings out the sweetness of the baby lettuce and gives it and the asparagus so much good flavor--complemented by the slightly salty but mild feta that gets nicely softened by the warm vegetables. I will happily make this again.
I'm linking this recipe up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is Get to Grilling! You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.
I'm also linking it up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.