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Grilled Salad with Creamy Avocado-Basil Dressing

Grilled Romaine Salad with Creamy Avocado Basil Dressing

This recipe turns plain old romaine into a smoky-sweet Grilled Salad topped with marinated tomatoes, fresh corn, and a creamy avocado-basil dressing.

A few summers ago, I purchased my first grill. Over the course of the next few months I proceeded to grill practically every fruit and veggie I could get my hands on—even lettuce! I’m pretty sure my family thought I was crazy watching me throw crisp romaine hearts on the grates of the grill, but the outcome of that grilling experiment was nothing short of spectacular. Does grilling lettuce sound weird? Yes. But once you try it, you’ll change your mind!

About the Recipe

Romaine lettuce is one of only a few leafy greens sturdy enough to withstand the heat and char of the grill without wilting into oblivion. (If you’re interested in trying other greens on the grill, kale works well too.) In the few short minutes it takes for the heads of romaine to caramelize on the grill, a smoky sweetness is released from the greens that is otherwise impossible to attain. As the natural sugars in the romaine heat up they are released and create a brilliant juxtaposition of flavors and textures—the outside is crisp and charred, while the inside is warm and tender.

Grilled Romaine Salad with Creamy Avocado Basil Dressing
When serving grilled romaine lettuce, you have two options: you can serve it whole on a plate, which looks nice but can be a little unwieldy, or chop it after grilling, which isn’t as aesthetically pleasing, but does make serving a lot easier. With summer drawing to a close, I decided to add the best produce of the season to this salad—marinated heirloom tomatoes, smoky grilled corn, and fresh basil in the creamy avocado dressing.

For more meatless grilling ideas, see our Guide to Vegetarian Grilling and our round-up of 50 vegetarian grilling recipes.

Grilled Romaine Salad with Creamy Avocado Basil Dressing

Grilled Salad with Creamy Avocado-Basil Dressing

Grilling turns plain old romaine into a smoky-sweet salad topped with marinated heirloom tomatoes, fresh corn and a creamy avocado-basil dressing.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


For the salad

  • grapeseed or light olive oil for brushing the veggies and grill
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce washed, thoroughly dried, and cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 ears of corn husks and silks removed
  • 2 cups mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

For the dressing

  • 1/2 of 1 large avocado
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt


  • Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush the ears of corn and the romaine lettuce on all sides with the grapeseed or olive oil. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and minced garlic; toss to coat, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to marinate.
  • When the grill has heated, brush the grates with olive oil. Place the corn directly on the grill and cook for 8 minutes, turning every few minutes as it chars.
  • While the corn is cooking, make the dressing by combining the dressing ingredients in a blender. Process until the dressing is smooth with flecks of basil throughout, but no large chunks of ingredients remain. If the dressing is too thick, blend in additional water 1 tablespoon at a time; season with additional salt if needed.
  • At this point the corn should be done. Remove from the grill and set aside to cool. Add the halved romaine hearts to the grill, sliced side down, and grill for 3-4 minutes until slightly charred and beginning to wilt. Remove from the grill
  • To assemble the salad, lay the grilled romaine cut side up on a large serving platter, remove the kernels of corn from the cob with a knife, and sprinkle them over the romaine. Spoon the marinated tomatoes over the corn, discarding any juices that have collected in the bowl. Drizzle the salad with prepared dressing and serve.
Craving more veg-friendly recipes? Shop our collection of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks!

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  • Reply
    Cookin Canuck
    August 28, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Now that is one gorgeous salad! I adore grilled romaine, but don’t make it often enough. That needs to change.

  • Reply
    Tamara Andersen
    August 28, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    This looks fabulous, and the photos are gorgeous. I can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply
    August 28, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Wow, that looks delicious. I might just try this tonight. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner
    August 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Yum! I’ve been grilling lettuce this summer too-it’s so good

  • Reply
    Courtney @ The Fig Tree
    August 29, 2014 at 12:22 am

    I’ve yet to try gilled lettuce! This recipe looks amazing! Love that you topped the grilled romaine with creamy avocado basil sauce. A perfect combination. Cannot wait to try this recipe 🙂

  • Reply
    Millie | Add A Little
    August 29, 2014 at 2:49 am

    The dressing sounds fantastic!

  • Reply
    August 29, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I’m so hesitant to grill romaine! I’m a scardy cat and I’m not afraid to admit that lol

  • Reply
    Jess @ whatjessicabakednext
    August 29, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    This looks delicious! Love the grilled romaine- so unique! And that avo basil dressings looks super lush!

  • Reply
    September 1, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    I usually don’t miss not owning a grill much…but then recipes like this come along and BAM. I want.

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