Barbecued Little Gems, spring onions with goat's cheese
I love cooked lettuce -braised in stock, wilted into a risotto, pureed in soups or, as here, subjected to the fierce heat of the grill. The lettuce softens deliciously, but forms a crisp, charred, pleasantly bitter outer surface. Combined with spring onions and some salty cheese, this makes a wonderful summer starter. If you don't want to use a barbecue, you can achieve very similar results with a ridged griddle pan indoors -just be sure to get it good and hot.
When your barbecue is ready for cooking, brush the cut side of the lettuces with a little of the oil and place on the hot grill. After a minute or so, turn them over. Put the spring onions, also brushed with oil, on to the barbecue alongside the lettuce. When both are nicely charred and slightly softened, divide them between 4 plates and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.
Use a vegetable peeler to shave over the goat's cheese, or, if it's a very crumbly type, crumble it. Trickle over a little oil and serve.
Little Gem lettuce hearts, halved
3-4 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil
12 spring onions, trimmed
60-80g Ticklemore cheese, or other fairly hard, crumbly goat's cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive or more rapeseed oil, to finish
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