Don’t Dread the Headby Dorrie Berkowitz, member Tuv Ha’Aretz CSA

In 2016, the per capita consumption of lettuce in the United States was 24.5 pounds. Of that, 13.5 pounds was head lettuce, aka iceberg lettuce. The rest was leaf lettuce, such as romaine, Bibb, and the like.* We are indeed fortunate that the Golden Earthworm farmers provide us with gorgeous, often massive, heads of lovely leafy lettuce. Lots of it. Sometimes we wonder, “How much salad can we eat?! What else can we do with all those heads?”

Start by thinking outside the CSA box. Those cool green beauties are just aching to become a luscious chilled soup. Wait…soup? That’s right, friends, lettuce soup is a great way to use up some of that lettuce, especially if it’s past its prime. Here’s how:

  • Creamy Lettuce Soup (adapted from seriouseats.com) Serves 4.

Dice 1 medium onion, slice 1 medium leek (white parts only), and slice 4 garlic cloves. Over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter, and add the vegetables. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Do not brown.

Add 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock (packaged stock is just fine!). Bring to a boil and then simmer until the vegetables are very soft and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Then add about 8 ounces of leaf lettuce (romaine works well for this), minus the root end and core. If the ribs are very tough, you can trim those as well, and tear larger leaves into smaller pieces. Stir into the simmering stock and cook until wilted and soft, about 2 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until very smooth. No immersion blender? Let the soup cool a bit and then work in batches in a traditional blender. Adjust the seasoning and chill before serving. (You could serve it warm, too.) Drizzle pesto (made with our CSA herbs) on top and serve with parmesan-dusted garlic toast.

OK – we’re making progress here. What else can you do with lettuce? Go Asian with lettuce soong for dinner. It’s a lettuce roll-up filled with savory ground chicken. Take a look at this version (it sounds complicated but it’s not):
  • Lettuce Soong (adapted from rasamalaysia.com) Serves 2.

Combine 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce, oyster sauce or fish sauce, and rice wine, white wine, orsherry, ½ teaspoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly and then stir in 1 pound ground chicken, coating all the meat very well. Mix in 2 tablespoons finely minced carrot and 3 finely minced cloves of garlic.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken mixture and stir to cook thoroughly, breaking up any lumps into small pieces. Remove the cooked chicken mixture to a clean bowl.
Separate 8 leaves of Bibb or butter lettuce, splitting the lower ribs, if necessary, and arranging them on a plate so they form cups. Place a mound of the chicken mixture in the center of each lettuce cup and roll up the lettuce. Secure each with a toothpick. Serve with hoisin sauce, satay sauce, or sweet chili sauce. Alternatively, leave the cups open and top the chicken with your choice of sauces. Serves 2. (Use any leftover chicken mixture in fried rice another night.)

Let’s keep it going with an easy appetizer:

  • Cheese and Salami Roll-Ups Makes 10 roll-ups.

Place 5 large romaine leaves in a baking pan or sheet pan. Cut each in half lengthwise, removing ribs if necessary. Pour hot water over the leaves to wilt them; drain the water, pat the leaves dry, and chill for about 30 minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator and pat dry again, if needed. Spread each with a layer of goat cheese(you’ll need an 8-ounce package), and place a thin slice of Genoa salami on top of each. Roll each leaf and secure with a toothpick. Chill before serving.

“All right, I get it,” you say. “What if I really want a salad?” Then make the salad, but pump up the dressing. Even if you start with basic vinaigrette, switch out your white vinegar and use sherry vinegar or white balsamic vinegar. Whisk in a teaspoon of Dijon mustard for a thicker version. And don’t forget the salt!

Give your salad some heat with a dressing of rice vinegar, a pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, the juice of half a lime, and a tablespoon (or more) of minced jalapeño. This is especially good when you top off your salad with avocado slices.

Asian flavors return with this miso-ginger dressing, the kind you get on the salad with your sushi lunch special. It’s a little more involved, but well worth the extra work. And you can make a big batch and keep it in the fridge.

  • Miso-Ginger Dressing

Cut 3-4 carrots into small chunks and place in a food processor. Add 6-8 slices of peeled ginger (about a one-inch piece). Pulse until the carrots and ginger are very finely minced. Add ¼ cup rice vinegar and 3 tablespoons white miso paste; process briefly. Then, with the processor running, add 1/3 cup vegetable oil and process until blended. Scrape dressing into a bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon sesame oil. This will keep in a jar in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

So this season, embrace your lettuce. Don’t dread the head!

Dorrie Berkowitz is an editor and writer. She and her husband are empty-nesters, except for a very large cat. Dorrie loves to cook, and everyone in the house loves to eat!

*Source: Agricultural Marketing Resource Center

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What’s in the Box – July 25, 2017

CSA share 7-25-17

Corn, Red Long Onions, Carrots, Red Batavian Lettuce, Cucumbers,
Zucchini/Summer Squash, Garlic

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What’s in the Box – July 18, 2017

swiss chard

Walla Walla Onions, Beets, Swiss Chard, Green Cabbage, Red Batavian Lettuce, Parsley, Cucumber, Summer Squash or Zucchini.

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What’s in the Box – July 11, 2017

july 11

Green Cabbage, Radicchio, Green Batavian Lettuce, Basil, Yellow Summer Squash, Carrots, Cucumbers, Cipollini Onions

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What’s in the Box – June 27, 2017

scallions

Scallions, Fennel, Collards, Radicchio, Green Romaine Lettuce, Zucchini, Blueberries.

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What’s in the Box – June 20, 2017

purple kohlrabi

Napa Cabbage, Purple Kohlrabi, Cilantro, Spinach, Bok Choi, Green Romaine Lettuce, Toscano OR Red Kale

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Farms in Queens?

Farms in Queens?
by Judy Trupin Forest Hills Tuv Ha’Aretz Co-chair
I’ve known for a long time about the Queens Farm museum, and although I’ve never visited, it is absolutely on my to-do list. But this past Sunday while dropping off my compost at the Farmers’ Market in Forest Hills, I found out about Queens’ newest farm –at the Queens Botanical Gardens. Who knew? In existence since 2013, the farm welcomes visitors to tour on Wednesday afternoons as well as volunteers to plant, week or compost on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. I’m planning to sign up to volunteer on a Wednesday in July. Anyone interested in going along? Please be in touch.

You can find out more on the Queens Botanical Gardens Website And I’ll write again after my visit!

Finding out about the QB farm, also had me wondering, what was the last privately owned farm in Queens? I found out that it was the Klein Farm in Fresh Meadows. Once a thriving, 200 acre farm, by the time it was sold to a developer in 2004, it had shrunk to 2 acres. Still, it’s pretty amazing it lasted that long. Many were sad to see it go, and there were some efforts to find the funds to preserve it. Unfortunately, the attempts were unsuccessful.

According to the New York Times, when the Kleins began their family farm in the 1890’s, there were 2,800 farms in Queens. That number had dwindled to 308 by 1950. And today? As far as I can tell, there are two: Queens Farm Museum and now, the Botanical Gardens. Let me know of others, if you hear of any!

–Judy Trupin

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What’s in the Box – June 13, 2017

.garlic scapes

In the box this week we have
Escarole, Garlic Scapes, Cilantro, Baby Arugula, Red Romaine
Lettuce and Green Kale

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First Share of the 2017 Season!

What’s in the Box – June 6, 2017

lettuce

Baby Spinach,  Bok Choi, Red Boston Lettuce, Green Boston Lettuce,  Collards, Japanese Salad Turnips.

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Fourth (and final) Winter Share – March 7, 2017

What’s in the box this week

GE basket

Parsnips, Watermelon Radish OR Golden Turnips, Parsley OR Cilantro, Rainbow Carrots, Red Beets, Scarlet & Purple Top Turnips

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