Monday, May 30, 2011

Lettuce Not Waste Food - Again

This is a re-post of an article I published on May 11.  It was lost somewhere in the blogosphere, as were any comments you made.  Feel free to comment again.  

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I have a confession to make.  I know this will come as a shock to those of you who saw my most recent recipe.  In spite of my attempts to maintain a healthy diet, I have a difficult time finishing a head of lettuce before it turns into a mushy, unidentifiable blob in my fridge. I hate wasting food, so this really irritates me. 
It doesn't seem to matter what kind of lettuce, though romaine tends to stand the best chance of being consumed by its best-before date.  Any other variety requires a great deal of effort to polish off before it goes off.  Sometimes I wonder why I bother with lettuce at all. 

It's not that I dislike lettuce.  There isn't really anything to dislike about lettuce.  Problem is that there really isn't anything to like either.  Even in salads I find that it's just kinda there providing the background for all the tangy, crunchy, savoury, sweet, salty ingredients that make a salad interesting. I often don't include lettuce in my salads, and I have to say I don't miss it.  

I guess I feel that I don't get enough reward for the work involved in prepping lettuce.  I wash, I dry, I tear and what do I get for it?  A healthful ingredient for sure, but not really a flavour all-star.  

I try to sneak lettuce into other things in order to use it up before it goes off, but even my recipe for lettuce soup doesn't have any lettuce.  Later versions of this recipe included lettuce, and I liked it just fine.  Unfortunately, it's not something I make often enough to satisfy my need to avoid food waste.   

Often I'll toss lettuce leaves into a smoothie.  I like using lettuce this way, as I can skip two of the three prep stages.  Just wash and blend.  It's also a good way to use up lettuce that's at the stage just before unidentifiable blob.  You know, that stage where it's wildly wilted but not yet slimy.  

At Christmas my friend G gave me a jar of homemade Thai sweet chili sauce. (Yum!  I have such talented, awesome friends!) She included this recipe in the package, and I've been making a variety of salad-filled wraps ever since.  This is also a good way to use up lettuce, but certainly not the 20 leaves the recipe calls for.  I'm lucky to squeeze a half dozen leaves into my wraps.  

Recently, as I was making a lettuce-based Greek salad, I was inspired to try something different.  Even though it was a large salad there was a lot of lettuce left when I was finished.  I knew it wouldn't last much longer in the fridge, as it was rapidly approaching the age where crispness would be a thing of the past.  I looked at those sad, remaining, soon-to-be-wilted leaves and the light bulb went on.  What if I put some of those remaining leaves in the salad dressing?

I hauled out my favourite Greek salad dressing recipe and my blender.  In went the dressing ingredients.  In went one, two, three, four lettuce leaves.  Taste.  Mmmmm!  Gooooood!

I was so confident I had a winner that I wrote down the recipe for my amazing Green Greek dressing.  I was sure I'd make it again and again, and I was sure you'd all want to make it too.  

Sadly, I've misplaced the recipe since then. (I really need to tidy up around here.) It's just as well. As much as I enjoyed the flavour of the dressing it wouldn't stick to the salad.  Seriously,  it reminded me of magnet experiments in grade school.  You remember - likes repel.  

The dressing almost magically slid off the salad and pooled in a soupy puddle on the plate.  From there it slid into everything else and made a sloppy, green mess.  Frustrating and disappointing!

Sadly, in my initial over-confidence I made a lot of this dressing.  We ate it for the rest of the week. (Did I mention how much I hate wasting food?) The dressing even slid through lettuce-free salads.  So much for my likes repel theory!  

Some day I may try to sneak lettuce into my salad dressing again.  I think it could work.  I just have to figure out how.  Maybe an avocado would help...

In the mean time, dear reader, I'd love to hear your creative lettuce recipes.  Please let me know what you come up with.  I have a head-and-a-half rapidly growing old in my fridge.

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