Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lettuce: it's not just for salads anymore

June 10th share

The first few weeks of the harvest bring mostly greens, and this week is no exception. I have some beautiful veggies, -- not a lot of variety, though. There is baby leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, escarole (aka bitter lettuce), kale, Asian mix (aka 'lettuce mix'), purple and green kohlrabi and some pots of herbs. Full shares also got romaine lettuce, radishes and hakurei (aka 'salad turnips'), bok choy, and dandelion greens. 
I like salad, and did pick up some fun salad additions to encourage me to eat more salad but, really, how much salad can one person eat? 
Before I go any further, let's talk about how to prepare the veggies for storage. For the heads of lettuce, break off the leaves and wash well.. I fill a bowl with water and gently swish the leaves around, then remove them from the water and check how much dirt is in the water. I repeat this process until there is no more dirt, then dry the leaves in a salad spinner. To store, I place the leaves in a single layer on a clean tea towel, roll it up loosely and place in a plastic bag in the fridge. For the kohlrabi, radishes and Hakurei turnips, it's important to remove the bulbs from their greens and store them separately. Otherwise the greens will suck up the moisture from the bulbs, leaving them soft and mushy. The very tender greens- baby lettuce and Asian greens, spoil quickly in plastic bags. I place them in bowls and cover them with plastic, or these cool plastic covers that look like shower caps. This way the fragile greens don't get crushed. All of this took me about 20 minutes, and I know my greens will last the week, fresh and springy.

This week I am using some of the lettuce as wraps for a really yummy curried egg salad, and am stir-frying the Asian greens to be served with grilled tofu. Some of the lettuce will end up atop salad pizza. I'll serve the kale Brazilian-style with some baked chicken and herbed polenta. This is going to be a fun week of cooking!

Curried Egg Salad in Lettuce Wraps
The chives in this recipe can be replaced with chopped scallions. This dish can be served at a luncheon, or as an appetizer.

4 large eggs
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sweet curry powder
1/8 teaspoon paprika
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
1/2 small jalapeno pepper
1/2 lime
kosher salt and white pepper to taste
1/2 head of leaf lettuce

1. Hard cook the eggs: place them in a pot with enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and cover tightly. Let sit in the hot water for 12 minutes. Drain, and run cold water over them until they are cool. Peel them and mash (I use a pastry blender for this job). 
2. Cut the jalapeno in half and carefully remove the seeds and veins. Mince very well and add to the eggs with the chives.
3. Add the mayonnaise, curry powder, paprika, the zest and juice of half a lime, and a pinch of kosher salt and white pepper. Mix well and taste—if necessary, add more lime juice or salt and pepper.
4. While the eggs are cooking, prepare the lettuce by pulling off the leaves, washing and spinning dry. 
5. Place a tablespoon or so into the center of each lettuce leaf. Roll up and enjoy!
curried egg salad in lettuce wraps
Brazilian Style Greens
I’ve always assumed that greens have to be cooked long and slow in order to be tender and not bitter. I was very, very wrong. This style of cooking brings out the bright flavor of the greens and they are remarkably tender.

2 to 4 servings
1 bunch greens, such as collard, kale or escarole
1 small onion
2 Tablespoons oil or lard
1 very fat clove garlic, or 2 medium cloves
salt and pepper to taste

1. Strip the leaves from the thick stems of the greens. Stack the leaves and roll them up. Cut them into very thin strips and then separate them into ribbons. Cut the onion in half and peel and slice thinly. Peel and mince the garlic.
2. Heat the oil or lard and add the onion. Cook the onion until wilted. 
3. Add the greens and cook, stirring, over high heat until wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir through. Cook another 2 or 3 minutes, until the greens become quite fragrant. 
4. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Enjoy the week!! If you want any of the recipes I've mentioned, just ask. 

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