The sections below were copied with permission from Mi Ae Lipe’s Tastes from the Valley to Bluff: The Featherstone Farm Cookbook (2008).
To keep lettuce fresher longer, wash and dry romaine and leaf lettuce thoroughly before storing. Wrap the greens in paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, then place in plastic bags. Seal the bags tightly and keep in the refrigerator vegetable crisper. Periodically check the bags and replace any damp towels. Butter lettuces, on the other hand, should not be washed before storing.
If you find yourself preparing a lot of lettuce or other salad greens, a salad spinner can be quite useful in removing excess moisture before serving. (If you do not have a salad spinner, placing greens in an empty pillowcase bound with a rubber band and running it in the laundry dryer for 5 minutes on low heat can be quite effective.) Salad greens shoul always be thoroughly dry before being dressed, otherwise the salad risks becoming a watery mess.
Lettuce and other salad greens should not be stored next to apples or other fruits that emit ethylene gas, which will hasten spoilage and cause brown spots.
Complementary Herbs, Seasonings, & Foods
Anchovies, apples, avocados, bacon, cheese, croutons, eggs (poached and hardcooked), garlic, goat cheese, herbs, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, mayonnaise, greens, mustard, nuts, oils (walnut and olive), onions, oranges, peanut, pepper, raisins, sea salt, sesame, vinaigrette, vinegar (balsamic and rice wine).
• Try a truly lush taco, with plenty shredded green leaf or Bibb lettuce.
• For fun, try substituting a sturdy lettuce leaf for the seaweed wrapper in sushi.
• Cut tightly headed lettuce into wedges and serve with salad dressing as a dip.
• Stir-fry lettuce in a little sesame oil, ginger, and soy sauce just like you would spinach or other tender greens.
• Lettuce is tasty wilted with onion and bacon dressing.
• One popular French dish combines green peas, shallots, butter, sugar, water or stock, and shredded lettuce, covered and cooked on low heat for 15 minutes or until tender.
• Put out romaine leaves along with other raw vegetables on the crudite tray and your favorite dips.
• The old standby: a truly good bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, made with the only the finest quality bread, a thick-cut bacon, farm-fresh lettuce, and vine-ripened tomatoes.
• Pickle lettuce with sugar, salt, and vinegar in the refrigerator the same way as cucumbers.
• Stuff romaine or Bibb lettuce leaves with blue cheese, walnuts, and bacon.
Cook out of the Box - Focus: Lettuce
Cook out of the Box - Tried and True - Croutons
Citrus Butter Salad (serves 2 to 4)
This is a terrific beginning-of-summer salad.
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1/2 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 finely chopped 12-inch stalk green garlc
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 head green butter lettuce
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1. Mix all the vinaigrette ingredients together thoroughly.
2. Sauté the green garlic in a hot pan with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it turns barely brown.
3. Toss all of the ingredients and top with Citrus Vinaigrette (recipe above).
Credit: Featherstone Farm
Mylar’s Lettuce Wraps
These Asian-inspired appetizers make fun, interactive hors d’oeuvres for kids and adults alike and great at parties. Choices of fillings and seasonings are limited only by your imagination.
Wash and thoroughly dry large lettuce leaves. Butterhead lettuces work extremely well for these wraps, but any lettuce with large, pliable leaves is suitable. Arrange on a large serving platter.
• Strips of chicken, turkey, steak, barbecued beef, corned beef, ground beef, pastrami, deli meats, pepperoni, savory pork
• Smoked salmon, carp, tuna packed in oil, anchovies, kippers
• Chunks of hardboiled egg
• Shredded or sliced cheese
• Green and red bell pepper slices, onion rings, tomato pieces, bean sprouts, and other vegetables
• Shredded lettuce
• Baked or fried tofu
• Sprigs of fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, mint, basil, shiso
• Your favorite stir-fry recipe
• Fruit, such as apples, pears, mandarin oranges, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
• Roasted nuts or ground peanuts
• Tuna, ham, chicken, or egg salad
• Whole shrimp, crab, or lobster pieces
• Chili sauce
• Hoisin sauce
• Nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce)
• Soy sauce
• Plum sauce
• Pickled ginger
• Whipped cream or honey (for fruit wraps)
Arrange the filling ingredients on serving platters, set out the condiments and lettuce leaves, and let the fun begin.
Credit: Mi Ae Lipe, Featherstone Farm CSA member
French Cream of Lettuce Soup
This soup sounds bland, but isn’t. This savory and attractive French first-course soup has a wonderful consistency and is distinctive enough to step up strongly flavored courses.
4 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cups romaine lettuce, finely shredded
1 cup watercress, finely chopped
4 cups beef or vegetable stock
2 egg yolks
2 cups light cream
Salt and freshly group black pepper
1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan, then sauté the garlic, parsley, tarragon, and onion until the onion is transparent. Add the lettuce and watercress, and stir over low heat for five minutes. Stir in the stock and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
2. When ready to serve, beat the egg yolks and cream together with several tablespoons of the hot soup. Then pour the mixture into a saucepan, stirring constantly over low heat until the soup thicken slightly. (Do not allow to boil!) Stir in salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Mix in a blender or food processer or with a whisk
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/3 cup olive or sunflower oil
2 T red wine or sherry vinegar
2-3 t. honey or real maple syrup
1/4 t. salt
3 T. yogurt
fresh herbs to taste (try 2 T. fresh basil chopped fine or 2 t. finely snipped dill)
Credit: Cook out of the Box 2011 - Week 6
The classic version of this salad includes potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, tuna, anchovies and nicoise olives. However you can vary this as the season and your tastes may guide you. With or without tuna, this salad is a full meal, served with some bread. The concept is simple. Toss salad greens with a simple olive oil and vinegar vinaigrette. If you have fresh basil, tear some leaves and toss with dressing along with the greens. Divide greens one plate for each serving. Arrange on top of the greens some or all of the following: boiled potatoes (marinated in some vinaigrette), steamed green beans - cooked just until tender, quartered fresh tomatoes, quartered hard boiled eggs, tuna (good quality canned or fresh cooked) flaked into chunks, sliced cucumber, roasted red pepper, French or Greek black olives, feta cheese, sweet onion sliced into rings. If desired, serve some extra vinaigrette alongside in a pitcher. If you like anchovies, drape a few on top of the salad as a garnish.
Credit: Cook out of the Box 2011 - Week 6
Seasonal Salad with Herb Vinaigrette (serves 6)
Make the vinaigrette no more than a couple hours before serving.
2 scant tablespoons red wine or sherry vinegar, or a combination
1 small clove garlic, peeled
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 large handfuls salad greens, about 3/4 pound
1. Measure the vinegar into a small bowl. Crush the garlic clove and add it to the vinegar, along with 1/2 teaspoon salt. After 10 minutes or so, whisk in olive oil and a little freshly milled pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
2. To serve, put the greens in a wide salad bowl and season with a small pinch of salt. Remove the garlic clove, whisk the vinaigrette, and toss the greens lightly with just enough dressing to make the leaves glisten. (Your clean hands make the best salad-tossing tools.) Serve immediately with garlic toast or croutons.
Credit: Featherstone Farm CSA member Pam Garetto (adapted from Alice Waters)
Wash and dry salad greens. Wash and dry basil and tear off desired amount of leaves. Toss with a simple oil and vinegar vinaigrette and divide between individual serving plates. Pan fry a steak - preferably in a heavy cast iron pan - cook rare. Thinly slice meat when done, saving any juices to pour on the salad. Four to five ounces of meat per serving is plenty. Garnish the salad with some or all of the following: crumbled blue or feta cheese, sliced sweet onion, julienned raw kohlrabi, snow peas.
Credit: Cook out of the Box 2011 - Week 5
If desired, you can add a broiled chicken breast just like they do in the restaurants. Or some broiled salmon or other fish. There are a lot of bad Caesar salads to be found in restaurants. Sometimes they think that if you just pile shredded parmesan and croutons on romaine and maybe squeeze on a little lemon then they can sell it as a Caesar. Too bad. You owe it to yourself to make the real thing. This recipe has good instructions for coddling an egg - which is an important step in an authentic Caesar salad. If you hate anchovies you could leave them out. A compromise would be to use a bit of anchovy paste. A hint of anchovy flavor is most desirable in a Caesar salad. I am not crazy about anchovies but I do like some in a Caesar salad.
Credit: Cook out of the Box 2011 - Week 4
Pasta Chicken Salad
Cook pasta of your choice - such as rotini, fusilli, penne or elbow macaroni. Plan on about one to 1 1/2 cups cooked pasta per serving. Drain and set aside. Chop cooked green beans and asparagus into one or two inch pieces. Add to pasta. You may also add some chopped onions, garlic scapes or chives to taste. Fresh spinach leaves cut into 1/2 inch strips would also be a good addition. Then add pieces of cooked chicken. You could also use turkey, salmon or tuna or even some cured or smoked sausage. If I had some toasted pecans around I would thrown those in too.
Dressing: Mix equal parts mayonnaise and plain yogurt. Thin with a little milk if desired. Add a few tablespoons of fresh chopped dill and a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard. Salt and pepper to taste. If you want to spark the taste a bit, add a dash of vinegar and pinch of sugar. Serve on a bed of salad greens.
Here's a link to Cook out of the Box - Dig In: Mayonnaise.
Credit: Cook out of the Box 2010 - Week 2
Wilted Lettuce Salad (4 servings)
You can use up a lot of leaf lettuce this way.
About one pound leaf lettuce, washed and dried (if you don't have a salad spinner you can use kitchen towels). You can also add some spinach, beet greens or other tender green.
4-6 strips bacon, diced (you can also use pancetta - that is my favorite)
4 green onions (or one bulb green garlic, minced fine, and some chopped garlic scapes)
4 T. Cider vinegar (or red or white wine vinegar)
2 t. sugar
While bacon is cooking, shred or tear salad greens and place in a large bowl. After bacon is cooked, add vinegar, sugar and onions or garlic to pan drippings and heat gently. Pour warm dressing and bacon pieces over the greens and quickly toss. Serve on warmed plates. Salt and pepper to taste. Excellent garnished with chopped or quartered hard boiled eggs and sliced radishes.
Credit: Cook out of the Box 2010 - Week 2
Filled Butter Lettuce Cups with Asian dressing
Wash and dry individual leaves of butter lettuce - place on a large serving plate.
Chop the following (I suggest 1/2 inch dice or even smaller) Proportions can vary according to your taste and the amount of items you have on hand: garlic scapes, sugar snap peas (raw or very lightly steamed), peeled kohlrabi, carrots, onion, radish, cucumber, cilantro, roasted peanuts. You can also add tofu, hard boiled egg, mushrooms or cooked chicken or other meat or fish to the filling or on the side. Some cooked brown or white rice, at room temperature, would also be a nice addition to the filling. If desired, serve the various filling ingredients separately instead of mixing all together. Children might enjoy choosing their own filling ingredients.
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sunflower or vegetable oil
1 T. toasted sesame oil
2 t. soy sauce
2 t. sugar
a little salt, red pepper flakes to taste
optional - add a T. of toasted sesame seeds
Serve the lettuce leaves, filling and dressing separately. Each person can serve themselves - making lettuce rolls to eat out of hand or filling "cups" of lettuce to eat with a knife and fork.
Credit: Cook out of the Box 2010 - Week 3
One Bowl Salad - a Neat Trick
Put the following into a large bowl: 2 T. olive oil, 1/2 t. finely chopped garlic, 1/2 t. Dijon-type mustard, 1 t. red wine or sherry vinegar. Stir together. Add about 1/2 pound leafy salad greens - washed, dried and chilled -- 2-3 ounces at a time. Toss each time you add lettuce. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Optional additions: sliced radishes, shredded carrots, cucumber, nuts, bits of feta cheese, etc. Serve.
Credit: Cook out of the Box - Focus: Lettuce