HOW TO TURN A HEAD OF LETTUCE INTO A MAIN DISH
I’m sure everyone knows how to make a salad, but in the coming weeks we’re going to be inundated with lettuces and greens and pretty little side salads are not going to be enough to use them up. Over the years, I’ve come up with ways to use my lettuce, with just a few extra ingredients, as a main dish. To call it a main dish, I need it to:
–Supply me with a reasonable amount of protein. I’m not a nutritionist—and if any of our nutritionist-members want to correct me, please do—but from what I’ve read, I think I need about 45 grams of protein a day. Spread over three to five small meals a day, my main dish salad has to have 10-15 grams of protein in it. The three cups of torn lettuce in my salad supply about 2.5 grams of protein, so I need at least 8, and up to 12 or 13 more grams of protein. The amounts of protein listed below are rough averages.
–Taste good. The lettuces we get in our CSA shares are tastier than average—but I still need more taste and texture to make me happy.
–Fill me up. A bowl of lettuce is not going to keep me going until the next meal; I need to add something more filling.
Here are some of the things I add to my 3 cups of chopped or torn greens (I use lettuce, sometimes greens like mizuna or mustard greens, spinach or arugula when we get it, and herbs.
–Beans and peas: lot of protein—average is about 8 grams per half cup. My favorite is the chickpea. Soybeans have the most, 14 grams in a half-cup. Agata & Valentina sells roasted soybeans that are crunchy and delicious.
–Nuts and seeds: again, protein-packed. Almonds have 7 grams of protein in one-quarter of a cup. Toasting them for just a minute makes them taste even better.
–Cheese—crumbled feta or chevre, shaved parmesan or dry jack, chunks of cheddar, shredded mozzarella—or any of the many interesting and yummy cheeses available through Lewis Waite Farms or in local stores. Cheeses average 7 grams per ounce.
–Tofu—absorbs salad dressings, sort of like manna. And has lots of protein.
–Animal protein—for non-vegetarians, just an ounce or two of grilled, roasted, or any other preparation of meat, poultry, or fish. Flaked salmon and strips of grilled chicken are two of the easiest additions. Leftover coldcuts—smoked turkey, roast beef, and ham, for example—are also easy and get rid of little bits of food that might otherwise go to waste. Leftover barbecued chicken or spicy sausage add strong flavor as well as protein. Chopped or sliced hardboiled eggs are also good.
–Grains—A half-cup of carbs often makes the difference between hunger and satisfaction. Rice, quinoa, couscous, pasta, as well as lesser-known grains like faro, wheatberries, barley (look at Lewis Waite’s grain list for other choices)—are both interesting and filling.
–Other vegetables and fruits—Tomatoes, of course, though they are usually not in our shares the same weeks as lettuce. But any raw or cooked vegetables go a long way in making a salad a main dish. Fruits—dried, cooked, or fresh—are also nice.
–Salty things—olives, capers, and anchovies add a unique flavor
–Dressings—You’ll find a nice batch of dressing in Recipes from America’s Small Farms, on pages 54-55 as well as throughout the book. Dressings add interesting flavors, and if they’re full of dairy (buttermilk, bleu cheese or protein-based ingredients (such as tahini or peanut butter), they also contribute significant protein.
POSTED ONJUNE 3, 2017
SOME SALAD DRESSINGS:
If you have a super salad dressing, please send it for next week. See also: Recipes from America’s Small Farms (on pages 54-55) and the Stoneledge website
GREEN GODDESS DRESSING
Namrita, a returning member, sent this to us last year.
Goes well with our leafy greens. Also can be used on sandwiches as an herby mayo! The herbs can be replaced with whatever you have on hand or comes in the CSA.
1/3 cup packed basil leaves
1/3 cup packed tarragon leaves
1/3 cup packed chopped chives
2 medium-large garlic cloves
2 anchovy fillets
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup good mayonnaise (such as Spectrum’s olive oil mayonnaise)
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients except for the lemon juice (i.e., the basil, tarragon, chives, garlic, anchovies, lemon zest, salt, and mayonnaise) in the bowl of a food processor. Puree smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the lemon juice. Chill until needed.
SERVINGS: MAKES ABOUT 1/2 CUP
4 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained, finely chopped
½ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut all peel and white pith from lemons; discard. Working over a medium bowl, cut lemons along sides of membranes to release segments into bowl. Squeeze in juice from membranes and discard membranes.
Mix in anchovies, oil, and red pepper flakes, breaking up lemon segments against the side of the bowl with a spoon; season with salt and pepper.
DO AHEAD: Dressing can be made 4 days ahead. Transfer to a jar; cover and chill.
Recipe by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, Bon Appetit
Cook 5 chopped garlic cloves or 2 chopped garlicscapes in 1/3 cup olive oil over medium-high heat, 30 seconds; cool. Blend with 1/4 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin and kosher salt in a blender. Add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley; pulse to combine.
From Lettuce in Your Kitchen, Chris Schlesinger, John Willoughby
1/3 cup sesame oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons grated ginger
¼ cup orange juice + (optional) zest
2 tablespoons tahini paste
2 teaspoons minced fresh chile pepper of your choice, or less if you don’t want it spicy
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk together well
1 large mango
1 tablespoon red wine or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon light vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Peel the mango, cut it into pieces and puree until smooth in food processor. Add other ingredients to the food processor bowl and pulse to combine. Add other herbs and spices, such sumac, nutmeg, star anise, or thyme if desired; most kids like this better without extra spices.
AVOCADO AND COCONUT SALAD DRESSING
This super simple 4-ingredient avocado and coconut salad dressing is incredibly creamy, healthy and delicious! Use it on any of your favorite salads, it’s delicious with leafy greens, roasted veggies or any grain salads.
1 lime, juiced
4 tbsp coconut milk
1 clove of garlic
¼ cup of water
Add avocado, lime juice, coconut milk, garlic and water to a blender and process until completely smooth.
Keep the dressing in an air-tight jar in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Try the dressing with fresh orange juice instead of water for an even cooler taste!
When the romaine lettuce starts coming, I start making Caesar salad. There’s no reason why all our lettuces—and arugula and other greens—can’t be used in this salad, but romaine is traditional. I thought this was a difficult salad to make, until Dick Sandhaus provided a recipe in his Better, Cheaper, Slower blog. This recipe is based on his.
There’s a raw egg in this recipe; use only high-quality eggs and make sure they’re fresh. I don’t serve this to people who have health problems unless they know that they are eating raw eggs. And I don’t store it—if any is left over, I discard it.
1 clove garlic or about 6 inches of garlic scape
1 egg yolk (save the white for something else)
2 tablespoons olive oil (I use my best oil for this)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 anchovy fillets, more or less to taste
3 cups torn romaine or other lettuces or green
¼ cup (or more) toasted croutons, homemade or bought
freshly grated black pepper.
Rub the garlic or garlicscape or garlic all over the salad bowl for about 15 seconds; then chop it very fine and add to the bowl. Add the egg yolk, oil, and parmesan and whisk until well blended. Mash the anchovies to a paste, add to the bowl and whisk until combined. Add the lettuce, toss until it is coated with the dressing. Top with the croutons and add pepper to taste.
WILTED LETTUCE SALAD
Many wilted salad recipes use bacon; this one doesn’t.
2-3 heads leaf lettuce (Romaine, red leaf, etc.)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup vinegar (balsamic works best)
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped white or red onions
2 drops/splashes liquid smoke (optional)
Separate lettuce leaves, rinsing as you do so. Submerge all leaves into water to be sure they are clean. Sand and Dirt are not good seasonings. Dry lettuce leaves – spin, pat let drain – whatever works for you. Cut off the white parts and any bad spots. Then ribbon or chop leaves and place into a large glass bowl.
Combine vinegar, water and sugar and mix together in a bowl..
In a fry pan, heat the olive oil over medium high to high heat and then add the onions. Saute until the onions begin to crisp.
While the onions are crisping, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste onto the lettuce and toss. When the onions are should crisp and brown, but not burned, pour in the vinegar mixture and stir together.
Bring to a boil (about 2 minutes top). Remove from heat. If you are going to use the liquid smoke now is the time to add it.
Pour liquid over the lettuce and toss. Serve hot or cold.
SPINACH AND MANGO SALAD
This one is from Viveca; we’re not getting spinach this week, but I think our lettuces, bok choy, and chinese cabbage will work well. It’s a perfect example of a main dish salad—beans for protein, so much flavor, texture, and color.
Viveca writes: I’m originally from a suburb of Cleveland, and this my homemade version of a salad that they serve at one of my favorite restaurants there! If I’m being honest, I usually just use Olde Cape Cod Light Champagne Vinaigrette dressing for this, but I’ve included a recipe I’ve also made before below.
4 cups baby spinach
1 can sliced hearts of palm
1 fresh mango, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 can black beans, drained
10 tortilla chips, broken into large pieces
For the dressing:
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Make the dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients together in food processor or blender.
Mix spinach, hearts of palm, mango, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and black beans. Toss with dressing and top with crushed tortilla chips.
From member Dick Sandhaus’ Better, Cheaper, Slower blog. If you haven’t checked out Dick’s blog yet, you’re missing something wonderful. Here’s a link:
June 10, 2015. It was 80 degrees and humid when I made this. This perfect cool, light meal. Better. Cheaper. Chilled.
No oven, no stove, no sweat. I used a food processor and got it done in three minutes. You could use a mortar and pestle like M.F.K. Fisher during the last Depression. That Way, you get the added benefit of a 10-minute upper body workout. Pound vigorously while standing and burn 30 calories. Twenty percent of your soup serving.
This is really a salad cross-dressing as a soup. Lettuce and herbs with milk. Amazing how flavorful it is. It really tastes like lettuce. Very good lettuce.
I made it with great lettuce I get from my CSA farm share. If you don’t do that, go to the the Farmers Market. You’ll be pleasantly shocked by the difference that fresh and well-grown make. If you think of lettuce as nothing but a platform for salad dressing, this’ll change your mind. It’s prime greens season in a lot of places, so lettuce is peaking in ripeness and supply. And plunging in price. Demand the good stuff. Better and Cheaper.
To serve 4 or more
1 head of lettuce, chopped. I used red leaf.
6 stems of parsley
12 sage leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
6 sprigs thyme
20 basil leaves
12 arugula leaves
1 small Kirby cucumber
3 cups of whole milk (or more to serve more)
Put everything but the milk in your food processor. Press play and wait 30 seconds. You’ll have 3 – 4 cups of deep green pesto. Add 1 cup of the milk and blend for 10 more seconds. Now transfer the mix to a serving bowl and stir in two more cups of milk. Use more if you want to serve more. There’s plenty of flavor and substance in the greens to stand up to more milk. Salt and pepper to taste. Or not. Cover and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Or a day.
It’s surprisingly satisfying. Almost shockingly flavorful. And it’s very, very cooling. When it’s too hot to bother making dinner, this is a wonderful dinner to make.
(This idea is from member Dick Sandhaus’ Better, Cheaper, Slower blog; if you don’t know it, http://www.bettercheaperslower.com/cgi-bin/iowa/home/index.html ) One of the best, most useful blogs on the web. As you may have noticed, I rely on it a lot.
Piled high between two slices of bread, slathered with dressing (on the bread and between the leaves), with sliced turnips or radishes for crunch—there’s no need for meat or tuna salad to make a great sandwich. The trick is get the lettuce completely dry, unless you like soggy. The dressing can be a simple vinaigrette, a strong bleu cheese, or anything in between. I prefer drier dressings (because I hate soggy), but there is something to be said for the dressing soaking into the bread. Lettuce is also great in wraps, with or without other ingredients.