Lettuce Entertain You
Enjoy all the leafy variety in these recipes to spruce up your summer eating.
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Often during the summer, it's just too darn hot to crank up the stove and make dinner. The grill is an option, but there still needs to be a healthy vegetable dish to go along with it. So what's left? What can be made from items in the refrigerator alone?
How about a summer salad?
All that's needed are some fruits and vegetables, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, radishes, tomatoes and even an onion or two. Then, of course, there's the lettuce. And why stop at plain iceberg or romaine? Spice things up with watercress, a bit of cabbage, endive and even some spinach. Each lettuce has a different flavor and adds something to the salad, and most can be found at grocery stores.
Don't be afraid to experiment. While iceberg lettuce may not pack much of a flavor punch, adding highlights of escarole (from the chicory family) or even watercress could change the taste and look of the entire salad. How to tell the greens apart? Do a bit of taste research and start reading the packages they come in. Then follow the trail of taste buds to the perfect salad.
Here are some recipes using a variety of salad greens:
Spinach and Mint Salad
1 cup mint leaves
6 cups baby spinach, washed and dried
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey, preferably wildflower
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6 radishes, thinly sliced
12 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 very thin red onion slices
Coarsely chop the mint leaves; place in a mixing bowl. Add spinach and toss to combine. To make the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, honey, salt and a few grinds of pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in oil, continuing to beat dressing until it is cloudy and thickens slightly. Pour dressing over greens, tossing to coat evenly.
Mound a quarter of the greens on each of four chilled salad plates. Arrange sliced radishes and tomato halves in a circular design around the greens. Separate onion slices into rings and place over the greens. Serve immediately.
American Institute for Cancer Research
Italian Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing
1/2 head romaine, torn in small pieces
1/2 head escarole, torn in small pieces
4 tubes endive, sliced crosswise
1/2 head radicchio, torn
1/2 cucumber, seeds removed and sliced
1 small, sweet red pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 to 5 radishes, thinly sliced
3 to 4 slices red onion
1 Tbsp. imported red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
parmesan cheese, grated to taste
Mix together the lettuces, cucumber, pepper, radishes and onion. Sprinkle the one tablespoon (no more, as more will ruin the taste of the salad) imported red wine vinegar over the salad, followed by the 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and oregano and serve. This salad tastes best at room temperature.
-- Norman Stern, North Naples, Fla.
Sunny Salad for Two
1 ear fresh corn, cut from the cob
3 Tbsp. water
2 cups endive greens, torn in bite-sized pieces
1 large tomato, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and cut in bite-sized pieces
1 cup poached or grilled chicken breast, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 green onion, including 2-inches of green, finely diced
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Italian dressing or other favorite dressing
Place corn and water in a microwave-safe dish and cover with plastic wrap. Pierce six small holes in plastic wrap for steam to escape, and microwave on high for 4 minutes; drain off any remaining water. Drained, whole kernel corn may be substituted for the fresh, in which case the microwaving would be omitted.
Arrange the greens to cover two large plates. Divide the vegetables into two portions, then make three circles of vegetables on each of the two plates starting with the tomatoes, then avocado, then corn, leaving room in the middle for the chicken. Divide the chicken into two portions and pile into the center of each plate. Sprinkle green onions, salt and pepper all over the plates. Serve salad dressing and a slice of hearty bread on the side.
-- C. Lawton, Bonita Springs, Fla.
Kids will love helping to assemble (then devour!) these creamy, crunchy treats.