Lennox Hastie shares the secret to cooking lettuce with a surprisingly delicious result
“There is something about cooking lettuce that seems so wrong, and yet it tastes so right. We composed a salad of baby gem, radicchio and chicory, which we finished with glistening slices of warm guanciale (an Italian cured meat) and fresh pecans from my friend’s farm.
Grilling lettuce and bitter leaves lifts them to hero status, creating a beautiful balance of lightly charred outer leaves and a caramelised body. The radicchio softens and sweetens on the grill while the centres of the tight heads of baby gem retain a characteristic crunch.”
• 2 baby gem lettuces, halved
• 1 radicchio, quartered
• 2 chicories (endives), halved
• olive oil
• sea salt
• zest of 1/2 orange
• 12 slices guanciale (cured pork jowl), sliced thinly
• 100g fresh pecans, shelled
For the dressing:
• 2 tablespoons apple wine vinegar
• 2 tablespoons pedro ximenez vinegar
• pinch sea salt
• 60ml grapeseed oil
• 60ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 Prepare your embers and arrange a grill directly on top.
2 Prepare the dressing. Combine the vinegars with the salt and, whisking continuously, gradually add the oils until emulsified.
3 Spray the split lettuce heads lightly with olive oil and grill for 2–3 minutes on each side until caramelised and lightly charred. Remove, season with salt and orange zest, and toss in the dressing.
4 Place the guanciale on a metal tray 20 cm (8 in) above the embers and gently warm until translucent.
5 Divide the leaves and guanciale between warm bowls, finish with fresh pecans broken and scattered over, and serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Lennox Hastie, extracted from Finding Fire