Linda Gassenheimer is an award-winning author of several cookbooks, most recently, The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook and The Flavors of the Florida Keys. Listen to her FoodNewsAndViewsPodcast on all major sites. She writes the syndicated newspaper column “Quick Fix.” DinnerInMinutes.com.
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It’s lettuce season, and there are lots of crispy, healthy greens available. But you don’t have to limit yourself to salad. Here are three delicious ways to use those greens…
Helpful: Start with the freshest greens possible (usually found in a farmers’ market). Fresh lettuce will keep three to four weeks. Store-bought lettuce will keep six to nine days. Separate the lettuce into individual leaves. Then air-dry leaves on paper towels if there is any moisture on them. Wet a dish towel under cold water, and wring it out so that it’s wet but not dripping. Roll the lettuce in the damp towel, and place it in the crisper drawer. Every three to four days, use a mister to moisten the towel. Wash the lettuce before using it.
Chinese Pork in Lettuce Puffs
Wrap savory pork, slivers of cool cucumber and tangy scallions in large lettuce puffs for a crisp Chinese treat. You can substitute chicken for pork if you choose.
1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon dry sherry
2 medium garlic cloves, crushed through a garlic press
Mix the soy sauce, sherry, garlic, ginger and honey together in a bowl. Add the pork to the marinade while you prepare the garnishes.
To prepare garnishes: Wash and remove the root end and damaged leaves from the scallions. Cut into four-inch pieces. Slice each piece lengthwise into long slivers. Place in a small bowl. Peel and cut the cucumber into four-inch pieces, then cut lengthwise into thin slivers. Place in a small bowl.
Heat the sesame oil in a wok or skillet over high heat until smoking. Add the pork and any extra marinade to the wok. Separate any pieces that cling together. Cook without moving the pork for one minute. Turn and stir-fry for two more minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into a small bowl.
To serve, place the bowls with scallions, cucumber, lettuce, hoisin sauce and pork on the table. To make the puffs, take one lettuce leaf and spoon a little hoisin sauce onto it. Add a few scallions and cucumber slivers and some pork pieces. Roll up and eat. Makes two servings.
Cream of Lettuce Soup
This tasty soup is a great way to use up wilted lettuce leaves. Serve the soup at room temperature in the summer or serve it hot as the weather gets colder. You can freeze it for up to three months.
2 Tablespoons thinly sliced chives or the green tops of scallions
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and sauté one minute. Add water just to cover the onions. Cover the saucepan with a lid, and cook for 10 minutes or until the water is evaporated and the onions are soft and clear. While the onions cook, bring the milk to a simmer in a separate pan. To the saucepan with the onions, add the lettuce. Stir until the lettuce is wilted, about two minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the hot milk, and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Cool the soup, and purée in a blender or food processor or use an immersion blender. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the walnuts and chives/scallions on top. Makes two servings.
Sautéed Lettuces Over Chicken
Quick-sautéed radicchio, romaine and Bibb lettuce add color and flavor to chicken cutlets.
¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (one-half-inch thick)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Vegetable oil spray
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, crushed through a garlic press
4 cups (about 5 ounces) washed, ready-to-eat greens, including radicchio, romaine and Bibb lettuce
Remove any visible fat from the chicken. Pour vinegar into a bowl or resealable bag, and add the chicken. Let the chicken marinate for 10 minutes, turning once during that time. Remove the chicken from the vinegar, and wipe dry with a paper towel. Discard the vinegar. Heat a medium-sized nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and spray with vegetable oil spray. Cook the chicken for three minutes, then turn and cook the other side for three more minutes. A meat thermometer inserted in the chicken should read 165°F. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove to a plate.
Heat the olive oil in the same skillet. Add the garlic, and sauté for one minute. Add the lettuce, and toss it in the pan about 30 seconds to one minute. The lettuce should be warm but remain firm.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and divide evenly over the chicken cutlets. Makes two servings.