}

June 12, 2011

June Salad Harvest

REMEMBER THOSE MINIATURE LETTUCE'S THAT I PLANTED A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO? THE ARE ALL READY FOR HARVESTING, AND BECAUSE I TIERED MY SOWING, I SHOULD HAVE FRESH SALAD GREENS ALL SUMMER LONG.


MIXED MINI - LETTUCES, AS I TALKED ABOUT GROWING LAST FEBRUARY, ARE BEING HARVESTED DAILY. THE RED LETTUCE ON THE LEFT IS BABY RED ROMAINE, CALLED 'RHAZES'. SPRING ONIONS AND FRESH DILL ARE ALSO PICKED THIS MORNING, FOR FRESH SALADS AT LUNCH AND THIS EVENING.

AUSTRALE, A RED BUTTERHEAD TYPE. SMALL HEADS ALLOW YOU TO CROWD MANY PLANTS INTO A SMALL AREA.

LOLLO-TYPE LETTUCE IS VERY POPULAR IN EUROPE, BOTH FOR IT'S DWARF HABIT, AND FOR IT'S FLAVOR. IT IS CRISPY AND CURLY, WITH A REAL NUTTY TASTE.

'PARADAI', A RED OAK-LEAF LETTUCE

Home grown lettuce and greens require a little post-harvest work before eating. I pick heads of greens early in the morning ( and this morning was perfect since we had spring thunderstorms all night, which kept the greens crisp and turgid). It is best to pick tender greens early in the morning, in late in the evening, or else they will wilt quickly, rarely recovering. Plunge newly picked greens into room temperature water, either outside or in the sink, and let them sit for an hour or two. This will drown any bugglin's and it will loosen any soil which will drop to the bottom of the container. I use a large stainless steel bowl.



 After the lettuce has soaked, I rinse each leaf under cool, running water. On a dry kitchen towel, lay each leaf side-by-side. Rather than use a salad spinner, this process is a bit more elaborate, but since home grown lettuce if often limp, you must chill it in a damp environment to maximize crispness, so although a salad spinner may work for early spring greens like arugula and late fall greens like mache, for June and July leaf lettuce, I use the classic French method of laying washed greens on a kitchen towel, rolling it up and then refrigerating it for at least 2 hours, or overnight. This method will crisp most any limp leaf lettuce.
 The now wet kitchen towel with freshly washed greens, is rolled like a cigar and simply placed on a refrigerator shelf to chill. In a few hours, you will have super-crunchy leaf lettuce, perfect for a crispy salad on a hot, summer day.
CRISPY FRESH-PRICKED GREENS REQUIRE A LIGHT DRESSING IF ONLY TO ENHANCE THE GREEN TASTE. FRESH BUTTERMILK AND LEMON DRESSING WITH DILL AND GREEN ONIONS, MY MOM'S OLD SEASONAL RECIPE, PLATED ON MY GRANDMOTHER'S  UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD CHINA.

A SIMPLE FRENCH MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE BALANCES NICELY WITH A MIXED BOWL OF GREENS. COMBINED WITH SHALLOTS, FRESH HARD-BOILED DUCK EGGS AND NEUSKE'S APPLEWOOD SMOKED BACON, WHICH WAS A GIFT FROM MY OLD COLLEGE BUDDY, JEANIE LEE.

2 comments :

  1. Yum! Thanks for all the tips on picking. I always wash very thoroughly, and they stay crisp enough. But this explains why the very first time I picked lettuce it went limp immediately and never recovered.

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  2. Nothing beats homegrown greens. Last spring, I stuck to red romaine and kale, and both grew beautifully in my raised bed. As much as I love winter, I can't wait until March rolls around here in NorCal so I can start the spring crops!

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