This is as fresh as it gets – straight from the garden to the salad bowl! Scott planted a variety of lettuces in self-watering boxes on our deck this summer so they would get sun with a bit of shade, require very little of our attention and be close at hand for picking. Tonight’s blend included peppery Arugula, leafy Nevada, some Cimmaron Romaine (a beautiful red-bronze color, though I think it is in the bottom of the bowl in this picture – sorry!), Parris Island Cos (a very tender romaine), a sprig of Basil and a handful of a baby Mesclun blend. I sprinkled on some Parmesan cheese and drizzled with my Italian Vinaigrette. Very simple, very good.
The Cimmaron Romaine and Parris Island Cos were planted from seeds we ordered from one of our favorite seed conservation organizations, Native Seeds Search www.nativeseeds.org
The best way to wash garden lettuce is in a large bowl of cold water (we use a gigantic stainless bowl). Don’t overcrowd the bowl with the lettuce; the idea is to get as much water as possible around the leaves to lift off the dirt. Gently swish the lettuce leaves in the water and lift them out into a strainer. Dirt that was on the leaves is now in the bottom of the bowl. Empty and rinse the bowl, and repeat until there is no more dirt. Be very gentle with the lettuce leaves because they can bruise easily – fresh leafy lettuce from the garden is more tender than the sturdy blends from the produce department.
Once clean, we give the leaves a whirl in our salad spinner which gently (there’s that word again) and thoroughly dries the lettuce leaves. No soggy salad and the dressing will stick to the lettuce leaves much better. Scott chose our OXO brand salad spinner – he is a great lettuce picker, washer, spinner guy and he loves to buy gadgets, so it was a win-win all over. I think salad spinners are way beyond the gadget category, however, and more like an essential kitchen tool. If you use a spinner, let me know what kind you use and how you like it.