Lettuce and Radishes

May 22nd, 2011

…lettuce and radishes…lettuce and radishes…I think I may have said this last week, but the garden harvest is mostly lettuce and radishes. The spring lettuce is maturing now, and if next week’s weather forecast is correct, that will be the end of it. Too hot for lettuce; it will probably bolt. This week, however, was perfect for lettuce – cool and lots of rain. Except for the rain that came all at once on Tuesday. More about that in a minute.

Since the lettuce is pretty much at its peak now, let’s take a look at each variety.

Forellenschluss

Forellenschluss. Most eye-catching lettuce of the season. Good flavor too; not much bitterness.

Grosse Brune Paresseuse

Grosse Brune Paresseuse. I like the texture of this one very much. It's inclined to be bitter, but just avoid the most mature leaves.

Red Iceberg

Red Iceberg. Very good flavor for an iceberg-type. Sweet and crunchy.

Hanson

Hanson. Another iceberg type. Not quite as sweet as Red Iceberg, but very crunchy.

Tennis Ball

Tennis Ball. Grown at Monticello by Thomas Jefferson, although you have to wonder whether after 200 years it's really the same thing. Anyway, a nice butterhead type. I'd grow it again.

Merveille des Quatre Saisons

Merveille des Quatre Saisons. I didn't like this one much. Supposed to be good for all year-round, but the flavor is just OK, tending toward bitterness. I have read descriptions of it as a butterhead type, but mine seems more like a romaine.

Now, about this week’s rain. See all the dirt on the lettuce? That’s actually shredded wood mulch. We got the most rain in the shortest time that we’ve ever had in the 5 years we’ve been here. Anything that was uphill went downhill. So I’m raking mulch back onto the paths where it belongs, and trying to wash it out of the lettuce.

But what did I make with all the lettuce this week? I made Vietnamese Summer Rolls again last weekend. I found the best varieties for this are the softer lettuces – Forellenschluss, immature Tennis Ball and Grosse Brune Paresseuse.

When I make a tossed salad, though, I like a bit of crispness. Hanson, Red Iceberg and mature Tennis Ball and Grosse Brune Paresseuse. We had Wendy’s Soba Salad (twice, in fact) with Hanson and Red Iceberg lettuces, but I changed the dressing a bit, and tossed in a few sliced radishes, sorrel leaves and garlic chives. Didn’t have any orange juice for the dressing, so mine was soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, Korean red pepper powder (mildly hot), and a little bit of lemon juice, with just enough peanut butter to thicken it to a creamy salad dressing consistency.

Any kind of lettuce is fine for sandwiches and wraps. We had salami and cheese sandwiches, topped with lettuce leaves and thinly sliced onion, and drizzled with a little chile olive oil. Radishes on the side.

And Friday I made something you could call a wrap or a taco or whatever, but it turned out well enough that I’ll give some details. I cut a boneless, skinless chicken breast into thin slices (across the grain), and sauteed it quickly with chopped onion and chopped green chile (last year’s Bulgarian Carrot, from the freezer) and salt to taste. I deglazed the pan with a small amount of water so the meat had a tiny bit of sauce with it. We topped it with lettuce, chopped onion, sliced radishes, cilantro and salsa (store-bought) and rolled it up in a roti softened in the toaster oven. A note about the rotis: I’ve lately been using these exclusively where I would previously use flour tortillas. The flavor is good and there are no dough conditioners or preservatives. I get them at the local Korean supermarket in northern Virginia or Indian grocery stores in Richmond.

(Nobody paid me, or even gave me free rotis, to mention their products.)

Peas 'Petit Pois Precoville'

Peas 'Petit Pois Precoville'

I’m really hoping to be able to write about peas next week for the Garden-to-Table Challenge at Greenish Thumb , but if not, then it will probably be lettuce and radishes.

6 Responses to “Lettuce and Radishes”

  1. Sandy says:

    I have never seen lettuce look so good!
    Thanks for the sandwich ideas.

  2. Diana says:

    We also very full with radishes…radishes…radishes at the moment. Lettuce is still a wee seedlings. I wanted to make vietnamese roll the other day but I have neither cucumber nor lettuce. But when we have a glutton of lettuce I know what to do with it thanks to you.

  3. Wendy says:

    sounds like you’ve had some good eats this week! We had curry goat in rotis in St. Lucia. Your post brings back memories. Actually, now that I sit here thinking about curry…goat…seems kind of horrible…

    • entangled says:

      I don’t know much about the rotis in the Caribbean, but I think they’re thin and soft? The ones I mentioned are basically identical to flour tortillas. I need to learn more about Caribbean food, on location I think…

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