Friday, May 16, 2014

Lamb Lettuce Two Ways

Local spring greens are here. Crisp, vibrant, and utterly delicious.

We've just come across a nifty gardening trick to keep the bugs from the lettuce. It included a tip on cleaning the lettuce, but no recipes. So I decided to step in and offer some recipes.

The greens recipes below suit many greens but I want to highlight a less popular yet delicious - lamb lettuce (aka M√Ęche or corn salad).

In my humble opinion, lamb lettuce bears no resemblance to lamb but some say the name comes from the lettuce's resemblance to lamb's tongue. So be it.

The dark leaves are long and spoon-shaped and have a distinctive, tangy flavor. It is used raw in salads as well as steamed and served as a vegetable.

The season is starting now and you can find lamb lettuce at farmer’s markets and good produce sections. Choose dark, narrow leaves that are springy and unwilted. Store in an airtight plastic bag in the fridge and use quickly because it doesn't hold well. Use as a main ingredient in salads or cooked and served as a side vegetable.

Wilted Lamb Lettuce with Shallot Vinaigrette
You can substitute with spinach or baby kale.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 pounds triple washed lamb lettuce

For vinaigrette:
1 small shallot, chopped
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 ounces Cherry Grove Farm Buttercup Brie, thinly sliced

Make vinaigrette:
Combine the shallots, salt, and vinegar and mix well and macerate for about 30 minutes. Stir in the honey and gradually add the oil, stirring to emulsify the vinaigrette. Taste and correct seasoning.

Saute lettuce
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add oil and garlic. Saute garlic in oil for 2 or 3 minutes. Add lamb lettuce to the pan in stages. Fill the pan with leaves and turn leaves in warm oil until they wilt. Add more leaves to the skillet and repeat the process until all of the lamb lettuce is incorporated. Season the wilted greens with salt and pepper. Serve warm with vinaigrette as a side dish, or top with local brie and serve with some crusty bread as a light satisfying meal.

Assemble the salad:
In a bowl, toss the greens with some vinaigrette to coat, arrange on four serving plates. . Sprinkle some lemon zest. Arrange the cheese over the greens. Drizzle some more vinaigrette. Serve immediately with some crusty bread.

Lamb Lettuce Salad with Mango and Hazelnuts
Catch the end of mango season.

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 cups lamb lettuce or arugula
1 cup toasted hazelnuts broken into pieces
1/2 cup crispy bacon bits, heated just before serving.

Combine olive oil and balsamic vinegar with salt and whisk until emulsified. In a bowl, mix the lamb lettuce and walnuts. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss to coat.
Place the mango on a platter. Toss the leaves with vinaigrette and place over the peaches. Garnish with the crispy bacon and serve immediately.

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