Firing: Grilled Salad

Grilling season is undoubtedly upon us and judging by the smoky aromas wafting off those tiny Boston patios and roof decks, we’re pretty certain the city has taken up the sport in earnest. Boston-area chefs, meanwhile, are upping the ante by grilling their… salads. Yes, salads.

After seeing grilled romaine dishes pop up on menus all over town recently, we wanted to know why the standard Caesar just wasn’t making the cut anymore.

Greg Reeves, executive chef at Green Street in Central Square introduced his Green Goddess Salad (above; grilled romaine, avocado, polenta croutons, green goddess dressing) to the menu this spring. A self-proclaimed “big fan of grilled leafy greens,” Reeves says that grilling the romaine instead of serving it raw adds both texture and dimension to the dish— not to mention smokiness. The salad remains crisp and light, but the grill adds a fun touch to the plain, mass-produced romaine that’s used in most Caesar salads. “You need to wait until later on in the summer to get really good local produce,” says Reeves. “So for early summer, this is the perfect way to work with what you have, and make it fun, too.”

At Local 149, chef Leah Dubois, has also taken to grilling her greens for a dish she calls “whimsical and fun.” Grilling the romaine for her salad (grilled romaine hearts, crispy tofu croutons, fried Parmesan discs, Caesar dressing) “warms the salad up a little bit,” making it more crisp and palatable. “People seem to like smoky things right now,” says Dubois, “and grilling definitely adds a little extra flavor.” Caitlin Bueller


Who’s got the greens?

Green Goddess salad ($10) at Green Street, 280 Green Street, Cambridge, 617-876-1655,

Grilled Romaine salad ($9) at Local 149, 149 P Street, Boston, 617-269-0900,

Charred Caesar salad ($9.50) at The Abbey, 1657 Beacon Street, Brookline, 617-730-8040,

Grilled Romaine salad ($12) at The Independent Restaurant and Bar, 75 Union Square, Somerville, 617-440-6022,