It’s not often, at our house, that we’re caught up enough so that we can actually sit down and relax before guests arrive for dinner. Usually we’re scrambling right up to when the doorbell rings.
Such was not the case a few nights ago.
Our sons and their families were here and we were on the deck eagerly anticipating the arrival of my sister, Lori, and her husband, Bob, from Missouri, and their daughter, Lynda, and son-in-law Karl, from Illinois.
The deck tables, covered with white and blue linen, were set to seat 14 people. A serving table in the corner was beautified with a vase of yellow and white daisies. The buffalo burger patties were stuffed with blue cheese and ready for the grill as was the romaine lettuce. What?? Romaine lettuce ready for the grill? Why, I’d never heard of such a silly thing, but then I was not the head chef that night.
More about romaine on the Weber in a minute!
It was a perfectly gorgeous evening. No wind, mild temp, not hot and not at all chilly. A delightful night for a deck gathering and as we waited the arrival of our guests we were enjoying a summertime gin and tonic.
Someone happened to look heavenward. There was not-so-much as a cloud in the sapphire sky, but there was something not far above our heads. Dragonflies, swarms and scores dragonflies. It was a breath-taking sight.
Dragonflies are beautiful, totally harmless creatures not in any way, shape or form related to the common fly. They do not sting or bite. These guys are so friendly. Some would come so near they could have given us a butterfly kiss on the check.
What a thrill it was when one would light on someone’s shirt and sit long enough for the person in the next chair to scrutinize it. They probably do the same to humans as one of the most distinguishing features about a dragonfly is its eyes.
They have large, compound eyes with many facets or sides. Reading up on them, I learned that an adult dragonfly can see nearly 360 degrees around it at all times. I also learned they sometimes travel in swarms which they were definitely doing that night. That could be because of weather changes they feel coming on. And I was delighted to also read that mosquitoes are a dragonfly’s primary food source. Maybe that’s why we’ve noticed very few mosquitoes in our backyard.
Anyway, another of God’s beautiful creations fascinated us until the doorbell rang.
Now about putting romaine on the grill. To reiterate, I had never heard of such a thing until a son and daughter-in-law brought this to us from their Twin Cities gourmet club. This is a most delicious and unique way to serve a salad and not silly at all. If you’d care to try it, here’s the recipe.
May I suggest you enjoy your salad on the deck and while doing so, look up, just in case dragonflies have come to visit you!
Grilled Romaine Salad
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 Roma (plum) tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 shallots, halved lengthwise and peeled
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 3/4 cups olive oil
4 romaine hearts
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F (110 degrees C). Mix olive oil, white sugar, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Place tomatoes in the bag, seal, and shake to coat. Arrange coated tomato halves cut side up on a baking sheet. Bake tomatoes 2 1/2 hours in the preheated oven. Remove from heat, and let cool.
2. In a blender or food processor, finely chop the shallots. Add vinegar and brown sugar, and process until smooth. Slowly add 1 3/4 cups oil, processing frequently, so as to thicken the mixture.
3. Preheat grill for high heat. Brush romaine hearts with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
4. Place romaine hearts on the preheated grill. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, turning frequently, until slightly charred but not heated all the way through. Serve warm on salad plates surrounded by tomato pieces and drizzled with the shallot dressing.