But don’t blame the greens. These nutrient-rich harbingers of spring are more versatile than we give them credit for. The solution to eating more greens is not to eat more salad, but to find creative ways to use up the laundry bag of arugula that you impulsively bought at the farmers’ market, or the month’s worth of red oak leaf lettuce in this week’s CSA box. Lettuces, though mostly water, contain a range of flavors from bitter to buttery. When cooked, these flavors move to the forefront but are still mild enough to pair with everything from cheeses to seafood.
Bibb lettuce’s earthiness is delicious, but I still don’t want it all week as a salad. Making it into a quick pickle turns it into a condiment that can accompany everything from stir-fried noodles to charcuterie to barbecued meats. It’s salty/sour but retains its crunchiness and most of its nutrients. I call it a kimchi, but really it’s just another method for wilting greens using salt instead of heat. Adding these three culinary techniques to your arsenal means enjoying spring’s bounty of greens well into the summer months.
Chef Lee shares three of his lettuce recipes:
Photos by Matthew Benson
Originally published in Organic Gardening Magazine April/May 2013.