May 22, 2013
Written by Robin Glowa
Monday, 24 May 2010 16:06
“We don’t need a melting pot in this country, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables, the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers, to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences.”
— Jane Elliot
If you have planted lettuce in your garden, as I have in mine, then by now you must have row after row of nearly four-to-five-inch high seedlings. I am a leaf lettuce fan, as opposed to head lettuce; and seed my raised bed with all manner of greens, including peppery arugula, sweet spinach, brightly colored Swiss chard, and a spicy mesclun mix.
The baby leaves of lettuce and other greens make fantastic salads, with flavors that are bright, sharp and altogether tasty. Harvesting your own lettuce ensures a crisp, delicious crop, free from pesticides. If you buy your lettuce at the supermarket or farmers market, be sure to look for lettuces that are vibrant in color, with no yellowing or brown leaves.
Lettuce has been utilized since ancient times. In fact, the Chinese have grown lettuce since the 5th Century and consider lettuce to be a food that bestows good luck. The ancient Greeks and Romans regarded lettuce as an excellent source of food, as well as having therapeutic medicinal benefits.
Low in calories, lettuce is a wonderful food to eat for hydration. The high water content makes it cool, crunchy and refreshing; and every variety of lettuce supplies healthy doses of chlorophyll and vitamin K. Romaine lettuce contains the highest amount of nutrients, providing an excellent source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C, as well as folic acid, manganese and chromium.
Large romaine leaves make a wonderful wrapper for spicy Asian dishes; or an interesting alternative to bread for sandwiching together slices of roast turkey, avocado, peppers and a bit of cheese. Lettuce can be stir-fried, combined with fresh peas in a lovely warm-weather soup, or layered on a platter of crudités with other vegetables.
Entertain your palate with the many pleasures of lettuce as you prepare a delicious life!
Serves 4 to 6
1 large head Boston, iceberg or romaine lettuce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 pound ground chicken
1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 cup chopped scallions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional, or substitute 1 minced jalapeño)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Fresh lime quarters
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Separate lettuce leaves, clean and dry them and arrange on a platter.
In a sauté pan, heat canola oil until almost smoking. Add chicken and cook until well browned. Stir in ginger, scallions, garlic, soy sauce, red pepper or jalapeño, and hoisin sauce. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring until mixture is well combined. Remove from heat and stir in peanuts, mint leaves and cilantro. Spoon some of the mixture into a lettuce leaf, squeeze with lime juice, roll up and enjoy.
Add shredded carrots, chopped water chestnuts and slivers of sweet peppers if desired as well.
Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, is a passionate food and wellness enthusiast who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.
She specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes for children and adults, as well as cooking presentations and wellness workshops for many local organizations.
For more information go to theconsciouscook.net , call 203-393-1037, or http://confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com.
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