Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Mystery Ingredient...

While I was preparing dinner last night, there was a last minute change of plans. It's not like I design a menu most nights; generally I do a quick survey of what's in the refrigerator – seeing what's going to go bad first and if there are any leftovers that need doctoring up. From this reconnaissance, dinner is born (or in some cases reborn)!

In any event, what at first I thought was a head of cabbage turned out to be a head of lettuce. I had misjudged the contents of the whooping size of the overly printed-on packaging. Imagine my surprise upon unwrapping it! In my experience, cabbage has a longer shelf-life than lettuce and was going to be saved for another evening. However, with this mystery ingredient swap, the lettuce moved to the front of the line. My first instincts were to make a salad. But a recent cold-front and a drop in temperature nixed that idea. It was a night for a hot supper, for sure!

I'll be honest: I've never really cooked with lettuce before. Sure, I've made lots of salads and used it on sandwiches and even made spring rolls with it before... but never actually "cooked" with it. So I was a little daunted by the prospects. What if it turned into a hot mess? Literally?

The moment of truth rounded the corner and I decided to quickly stir-fry it with some orange bell peppers and a garlic sauce. I was both surprised and delighted at the similarity to other wilted greens and the sweetness of the leafy ingredient. It was much less bitter than Chinese cabbage or radicchio.

After dinner, I did a search online for other recipes including cooked lettuce. Again I was surprised. Although many of the recipes simply shredded it or cut it into smaller pieces, there were some that put it to the heat. Armed with these discoveries, last summer's dilemma of what permutation of eating raw lettuce with the over-abundance from the garden won't strike again!

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