Lettuce Overload 101

Daily Lettuce

Knock-knock.
Who’s there?
Lettuce.
Lettuce who?
Lettuce in and we’ll tell you.

-Old Joke

So this spring I planted lettuce seeds that I’d planned for last fall, and because they generally do not keep very well for more than a year or so, I planted ALL of my lettuce seeds. The only problem was that most of them germinated and I had at least six three-square-foot beds of lettuce.

For two people, that’s a LOT of lettuce. We’ve been literally having it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We’re giving it away to neighbors, who fortunately do not regard lettuce with the same aversion as mountainloads of zucchini (actually, we’ve never had a surplus of zucchini. We’re working on that, sort of…)

Anyway, this is a post on what to do with all of that lettuce.

1- Salads. Say what you will about salads, but I adore salads. I generally have one vinaigrette- style dressing and one creamy-style dressing. For a long time I used Orangette’s dressing, which was basically 3 TB of any vinegar you chose, 5 TB of extra virgin olive oil (Southern Season is a great place to get the fancy stuff, especially when they have the oils on sale), 1 TB of dijon mustard (the one at Farmers’ Market is always perfect).

Then Toast showed up and made me rethink my salads. Maybe it’s because they have fantastic salads that make me swoon (my favorite is the anchovy bruschetta and their daily soup; the bruschetta is basically a salad mixed with anchovies in a very tangy dressing). Their dressing had a kick that I could not identify and it drove me nuts because well, their salad dressing basically kicked my salad dressing’s butt. So I experimented for the longest time, and just recently, I’ve figured out what gives their dressing a nice little kick. It’s the addition of garlic and lemon juice and possibly some shallots. Apparently, if you make a garlic-salt paste (look in Food52 for a video on that) and let it sit in vinegar and lemon juice for a while, you have a nice garlicky flavor without being overwhelmed. Or as I like to say, just enough kick to make you keep eating more lettuce…

I’ve found a quicker way that works just as well, and that’s using a microplane to mince garlic. I use this method to make Asian sauces as well, and it’s a great way to get garlicky flavor without getting huge chunks of garlic overpowering everything else. Seriously, I don’t know what I would do without the microplane (you can use it to zest citrus as well, or to shred ginger).

Anyway, here goes:

That Salad Dressing

  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 garlic, microplaned
  • 3 TB red wine vinegar
  • 5 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TB dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix shallots, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, and a little salt together. Let sit for at least ten minutes- go wash your lettuce or assemble the salad.
  2. When your salad is ready, whisk in olive oil and mustard and add more salt and pepper to taste. Add to salad and mix well with tongs. Enjoy!

2- Sammiches. BLTs, egg salad, etc. I have to admit I made a BLT for the first time and it went very well. Basically I used Sandwhich’s trick of making one side more toasted than the other. The softer side of bread is always outside, making it easier to bite, and the toasted side is more dry, holding up to the wetness of mayo and lettuce and tomato and therefore making the sandwich crunchier. (Yes, I am a geek and overanalyze things, but this is a food blog after all.)

3- Smoothies. Yah, I know, I know. I was skeptical about the idea of having lettuce for breakfast, but the smoothies do use up a lot of lettuce and most of the time it’s barely discernable. Just a disclaimer- I am not recommending this as a diet food or health food- I’m just recommending this as a good way to use up lettuce and get a really delicious drink in return.

Green Smoothie recipe (adapated from Kimberly Synder)

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple, peeled
  • 1 pear, peeled (barretts are good)
  • 3-4 stalks of celery (optional- if you don’t want the strong flavor of greens, take it out)
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen fruit mix*
  • 1-2 heads of lettuce
  • handful of herbs- parsley, cilantro, mint (optional)

*frozen fruit mix: for a berry smoothie, use a combo of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and a little mango. for a tropical smoothie, use a combo of pineapple, mango, peaches and a little orange juice.

Put everything but lettuce in the blender. Blend til smooth then add lettuce (you may have to push it down). This makes about 3-4 servings, so you can refrigerate the rest in mason jars and enjoy as a snack (it’s great with a handful of nuts).

That’s about it. Looking back, maybe I should’ve titled it “Three things that start with the letter S.”

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2 Responses to Lettuce Overload 101

  1. That salad dressing sounds wonderful. I do the same thing with arugula, plant so much I use it in pesto.

  2. Pingback: Week in Food [2/52] | The Accidental Southerner

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