Market Fresh: Lettuce

Lettuce is definitely coming up in gardens and very seasonal right now. I often use mixed greens for salad and sandwiches but I really enjoy other lettuces, too. Today, I have a wedge salad and a romaine salad. Both of these recipes are easy and yet fancy enough for a nice dinner. As a side note: the tomatoes are still looking a little puny. ūüôā

I’m not generally a fan of iceberg lettuce but this recipe showcases this crisp lettuce with a wonderful blue cheese dressing. This would be delicous with a little bacon!

WEDGE SALAD
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Dressing:
1/3 c. crumbled blue cheese
2 Tb. c. plain yogurt
3 Tb. buttermilk
1/4 c. mayonnaise
2 Tb. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. white sugar
1 small clove garlic, minced
ground black pepper

Salad: 
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cut into 4 wedges
1 tomato, diced
1/4 c.  red onion, small diced
crumbled blue cheese

Combine blue cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, olive oil, sugar, garlic, and pepper in a bowl; whisk together; chill until serving.

Build the salad by placing 1 lettuce wedge on each of 4 plates. Drizzle equal amounts of dressing over each wedge. Scatter tomatoes, onion, and blue cheese over each salad. Serves 4.

This dressing is fresh and delicious and really enhances the romaine lettuce. The recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray.

ROMAINE SALAD w/LEMON CHIVE DRESSING
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1/2 a lemon, juiced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Pinch sugar, honey, or agave nectar 
10 blades chives, chopped or snipped
1/3-1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil (depending on how much juice the lemon has) 
Salt and pepper
2 hearts romaine lettuce 
1 c.  grape tomatoes, halved or any other tomato, diced 

Whisk lemon juice, mustard, and sugar together in a bowl. Add chives and whisk in oil in a slow stream. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Quarter each heart of romaine lengthwise. Trim core at ends. Place 2 quarters on each salad plate. They’re served whole, covered with dressing. Halve a few grape tomatoes and place at plates’ edge for garnish. Drizzle salads liberally with vinaigrette and serve. Serves 4.

Counter Culture

This past week marked the opening of my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I was so excited to go and pick up the first produce of the season. Here’s what we received: one bag of mixed greens, one bunch of asparagus, kale, two heads of lettuce, radishes, eggs, chives, tarragon, spearmint and peppermint.

And here is what we’ve done with this delicious food:

asparagus — steamed with butter, salt and pepper
radishes — although I wanted to make this salad again, I’ve just been putting these into regular green salads
mixed greens and lettuce — salad; the first salad I made needed to be quick and consisted of the greens plus snipped chives, including the chive blossoms. Salad dressing also needed to be quick and so I used cream, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. A perfect combination!
chives — the chives have appeared in salads and our egg supper, and I’m thinking of trying to dry some to use in the winter. I’ll have to let you know how that goes.
tarragon — I’m envisioning turning this into a lemon-tarragon sauce for chicken

kale — I browned a bit of garlic in some olive oil and then threw in the washed and chopped kale to cook until it was tender. Balsamic vinegar finished it off as a delicious side dish to our pasta dinner.
eggs — we often have eggs on Saturday night since I plan for a large meal on Sunday. Most frequently I mix five eggs with 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup grated cheese, salt and pepper and bake it in a greased pie plate. This week I added snipped chives.
spearmint and peppermint — my favorite way to enjoy these herbs is in my tea. I drink Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast Decaf and add a sprig of mint to my mug when brewing the tea (or make a large pot with several teabags and a few sprigs of mint). I drink this hot with milk, but it’s also excellent chilled. Some of the mint found its way into the cucumber and sugar snap pea salad that I made again this week.

We enjoyed a delicious meal for Mother’s Day, cooked for us by my sister. She made hamburgers on the grill with various toppings such as lettuce, tomato, onion, blue cheese,¬†avocado, and bacon. Side dishes included oven fries, rice salad, and Israeli salad.

Of course the most exciting thing happening in our kitchen right now is the presence of our baby girl — Laura Elizabeth — who arrived on April 27th.

And, since Laura’s arrival, our family has been enjoying the cooking of many friends who have kindly provided meals for us. We’ve all enjoyed the variety and I think the kids are sorry to see the meals coming to an end.