Grilled Salmon And Romaine With Rosemary, Garlic, And Lemon Baste
I'm starting to think that maybe I'm just hopeless when it comes to grilling. It's not that I can't do it -- whatever I make comes out okay -- I just don't feel like I'm doing it the right way or the best way. I feel like there are these unspoken rules of grilling that I never learned. What's a hot fire? What's a medium-hot fire? Do you grill with the lid open or closed? Does it vary depending on what you're grilling? I just kind of guess, cross my fingers, and hope for the best. (Then I think about how much I love baking, the exactness, the precision.)
I thought my grilling woes might be resolved when I received a review copy of The Gardener & the Grill: The Bounty of the Garden Meets the Sizzle of the Grill by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig. Adler and Fertig are known as the BBQ Queens. They've appeared on the Food Network and Better Homes & Gardens TV and also teach grilling classes. I hoped they could help me.
I was instantly pulled into the cookbook, which focuses on combining seasonal fruits, veggies, and herbs from one's garden or local farmers' market with other ingredients to make some fabulous appetizers, dinners, and desserts on the grill. I loved the idea of grilling recipes with a heavy produce focus. I loved the idea of "from seed to sizzle."
The book is full of tips on gardening and grilling. I skimmed it cover to cover, learning terms such as grill roasting and stir-grilling. The first chapter is called Pantry and includes recipes for seasoning salts, sauces, dressings, and marinades. These basic recipes are incorporated into many of the recipes that appear later in the book, and many can be substituted for each other to bring new flavors to a dish. The chapters that follow are Appetizers; Sandwiches, Flatbreads & Pizzas; Soup & Salad; Meat, Poultry & Fish; Vegetable Sides; and Fruits & Desserts.
There were so many recipes I wanted to try from each chapter, but I figured I should start with something simple and went with the High-Heat Grilled Romaine Salad. The salad uses the Rosemary, Garlic, and Lemon Baste from the Pantry chapter, and I thought the baste sounded like a good match for salmon. I decided to use the Char-Grilled Salmon and Baby Squash recipe as guidance for grilling a couple of salmon fillets to go with the romaine salad.
Grilled Salmon And Romaine With Rosemary, Garlic, And Lemon Baste (adapted from The Gardener & the Grill)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 (6-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets (don't forget to remove the pinbones)
1 heart of romaine, halved, rinsed, and dried
Shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)
Grape tomatoes, halved (optional)
Combine rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and garlic in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup olive oil and pulse again. Add lemon zest and juice and pulse, then season with salt and pepper. Set baste aside.
Prepare a hot fire in your grill.
Lightly coat salmon fillets with olive oil, and season flesh side with salt and pepper.
Brush cut side of romaine hearts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill salmon, flesh side down, for about 5 minutes. Turn, and grill for another 5 minutes, or until cooked through. (My salmon stuck to the grill and required some finagling to flip. Not sure how to prevent that.)
After turning the salmon, place the romaine heart halves on the grill, cut side down, and grill until leaves are browned on outside edges and lettuce has grill marks, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Set out two plates. Transfer a romaine heart half and a salmon fillet to each plate. Spoon rosemary, garlic, and lemon baste over salmon and romaine. Top romaine with Parmesan and grape tomatoes, if desired. Serve.
While this is my condensed, adapted version of three different recipes and it's not written exactly as in the book, there is no additional grilling information in the recipes I followed. As with my other attempts at grilling, I wasn't sure how hot my hot fire should be, and I didn't know whether to leave the grill lid open or closed. I took these instructions to be what the authors consider basic grilling, which sounded like keeping the food over direct heat and grilling with the lid open, based on what they wrote in the Specialty Grilling Techniques section. (For techniques such as grill roasting, indirect grilling, plank-roasting, etc., there is more detail in this section.) For me, it would be nice to have exact instructions in each recipe, even when the technique is just "basic grilling." Is this just common sense? Maybe I am too much of a beginning griller.
At any rate, we ended up with a tasty meal. The Rosemary, Garlic, and Lemon Baste was extremely flavorful and complemented the salmon and romaine well. I can only imagine how good it must be with homegrown rosemary (I bought mine at the supermarket). And this was my first time trying grilled romaine, and I am definitely hooked. As the authors say, "It's the best of all possible worlds -- lettuce with a fresh crunch, but the flavor of the grill."
While I'm not sure it will make me an expert griller (don't worry! I'm not giving up.), this is a beautiful book with gorgeous pictures, interesting recipes, and tons of information about produce and gardening and how it relates to grilling. I look forward to trying more recipes -- like Grilled Zucchini and Yellow Squash Stacks with Feta and Black Olives; Wood-Grilled Spring Onion, Brie, and Kalamata Olive Pizza; and Grilled Pears with Honey-Cinnamon Creme Fraiche -- and to using the gardening tips when we have a garden someday.
Do you have any grilling advice for me? What are your favorite fruits and veggies to grill?