March 26, 2019
Living lettuce is a wonderful thing to have growing in your fridge, at the ready to provide the freshest, crunchiest leaves for salads, sandwiches and other meals.
Beyond the obvious dressed and tossed greens, beautiful, buttery leaves make a foundation for all kinds of plated salads—it’s a great way to clean out the fridge, when you can arrange leftover meats (roasted chicken, poached fish), cheeses, chickpeas, lentils or other pulses, fresh or roasted veggies, or even seasonal fruit. Top it with a poached or softly boiled egg, or a scattering of toasted nuts or seeds for crunch, and you have a fast, beautiful meal for one or many.
It’s also a great way to focus on the seasons: midwinter is a good time for root veggies and hardy squash, which is fantastic roasted for a salad, and deliciously sweet kohlrabi, which served raw, makes a crunchy alternative to the usual toast croutons.
To make jammy eggs—ones that aren’t quite hard-boiled, but no longer soft—lower whole eggs into a pot of boiling water and time them for exactly 7 minutes before running under cool water to stop them from cooking. Store them in their shells in the fridge until you're ready for them.
Or think outside the box and quickly grill a head of lettuce to impart a smoky, toasty flavour. To do this, cut whole heads in half—trim the roots but keep the stem intact so that they hold together—and brush the cut sides with oil. Grill briefly on a preheated grill, just until the edges begin to char. You can chop these charred heads of lettuce in a salad, or use them as a base for a plated or wedge salad—it’s a great way to keep your greens interesting.
Grilled Lettuce with Blue Cheese Dressing
1-2 heads living lettuce
olive or canola oil, for brushing
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 Tbsp heavy cream or half and half
freshly ground black pepper
Cut the heads of lettuce off their stems, keeping them intact at their base. Cut in half lengthwise, right through the stem end. Brush away any visible dirt, or run under cool water to get rid of any, and shake loosely to get rid of excess moisture.
Preheat the grill to medium-high and brush the cut sides of the lettuce with oil. Sprinkle with salt. Grill cut side down for a few minutes, flipping once or twice to get a bit of heat on the leafy side, until the cut side is char-marked and the edges of the leaves are charred as well. To make the dressing, whisk together the mayonnaise, blue cheese (save half for sprinkling overtop if you like), sour cream, cream and a grind of pepper. Place the grilled lettuce on a platter and drizzle with the dressing; sprinkle with blue cheese, if you set any aside (or add extra).
- Julie Van Rosendaal
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