July Pick of the Month: Lettuce
June 22, 2018
By Martha Marino, Director of Education
As temperatures in July go up, so does our desire for no-cook meals. Lettuce is coming off our fields in abundant supply and is a healthy, delicious base for summer salads. Carnation Farms grows 17 varieties of lettuce, always five or more at a time. Right now we have a deep purple-red lettuce appropriately named Merlot, a green Romaine, a crisphead Iceberg, butterhead, and a speckled lettuce. Our farmer’s favorite is Valmaine, the best lettuce you’ll find for BLTs!
You can easily make a green salad into a healthy meal without using a recipe. Just add a bit of protein (left-over chicken, toasted nuts), maybe some cheese (cubes of cheddar, shavings of Parmesan using a vegetable peeler), and whatever veggies you have on hand, such as tomatoes, cucumber, left-over cooked green beans or cauliflower. Toss with dressing, add whole-grain crackers or slice of whole-grain bread and you have a quick, no-cook meal.
Just one cup of dark green lettuce like Romaine or green-leaf has more than half of the vitamin A (retinol) you need in a day. Plants contain beta-carotene, which our bodies convert to Vitamin A. It’s orange in color (think carrots) but is masked by another pigment, cholorphyll. The darker the green color, the richer it is in beta-carotene. Pale green Iceberg lettuce is the least nutritious. Kale, a deeper green than most lettuce, has even more beta-carotene. Our bodies need vitamin A for good eyesight, healthy skin, and immune system.
Recipe: Two-way Salad Dressing: Vinaigrette and Ranch
Sometimes all you need to dress flavorful lettuce is a simple vinaigrette or ranch salad dressing. At our farm-to-table dinners, guests rave about our chefs’ green salads and have asked for their salad dressing recipe. We’re sharing with you so you can have a taste of our farm at your table.
This easy recipe makes a tangy vinaigrette using fresh chives from our garden. With the addition of plain yogurt, the vinaigrette is transformed into a creamy ranch dressing. Both are delicious on lettuce salads.
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons finely minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1 cup olive oil
- ¼ cup finely minced chives
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- Fresh ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, mustard, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and chives. Taste, add additional salt and black pepper if desired. At this point you have a classic vinaigrette. To change the vinaigrette to ranch dressing, whisk in the yogurt.
Makes 1½ cups vinaigrette or 2½ cups ranch dressing.
Tip: Use kitchen scissors to snip chives instead of mincing with a knife.
Original recipe from Chef Tracy Crannell.