With this week's stifling hot weather it seems appropriate to cover the lightest of all foods – lettuce. Last Saturday up at Union Square Greenmarket, Gorzynski Organic Farm had an extremely wide variety of lettuce available. Gothamist usually just leaves it up to John or Sue to pick a nice selection for us; they really have the handle on what is eating well and what goes best with what. Alternatively, you can tear off a small piece of outer leaf and taste your way to a good mix.
Once you have your lettuce all that is left is choice of dressing and accompaniments, which can range from vegetables to croutons to nuts to (dried) fruit. Some suggested ideas - roasted beets, thinly sliced carrots, peas, toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries, blanched corn cut from the cob, tomatoes this time of the year, or cubed cheese.
As far as dressings, vinaigrettes are a great idea this time of the year due to the aforementioned heat, but come wintertime look into creamy dressings and hot dressings built around things like bacon and shallots.
Vinaigrette in its most basic form is an emulsification of oil and vinegar, seasoned with a bit of salt. Depending on your taste the ratio of oil and vinegar can run from 3:1 up to 4:1, it is all about personal taste.
From this basic ratio, you can add in any of the following ingredients to move up the complexity ladder for your vinaigrette:
- Minced shallots
- Dijon mustard
- Minced fresh herbs: thyme, tarragon, summer savory are some good choices
- A bit of lemon juice to replace some of the vinegar
- Dried pepper: black, crushed red or even Syrian Aleppo
- Wash as soon as possible and store in an airtight container layered with paper towel - will keep crisp and fresh for 7 days.
- Wash in plenty of water; consider filling your entire kitchen sink.
- Dry lettuce will always hold a dressing better and will not dilute the flavor.
- Use a bit of lettuce to test flavor of the dressing, a spoon or finger will not work as well in this case.