10 Tasty Lettuce Recipes

Lettuce

Lettuce – like the radish – is another one of those vegetables that people associate with salad and salad only. And even though the lettuce has got a lot going for it (especially if you’re a rabbit) it doesn’t inspire too much creativity in the kitchen.

Lettuce deserves a make-over, and that’s what we will give it, right here, right now!

Here are ten tasty lettuce recipes to try:

(And here’s a handy link for converting cup measurements)

1• Lettuce soups: Lettuce and Garlic, Chive Soup or Watercress and Lettuce Soup or Gordon Ramsay’s Pea, Mint and Lettuce Soup with Parma Ham

Fresh, full of flavour and nutrients – and surprisingly filling (especially with a lovely crusty bread roll).

2• Jamie Oliver’s Favourite Winter Salad

A much tastier twist on your normal lettuce-based salad, including anchovies, lemon, watercress, halloumi and pomegranate. I can see why it’s a ‘favourite’.

3• Asian-style lettuce: Asian Lettuce Wraps or Chinese Chicken and Mushroom Lettuce Cups

Use your lettuce leaves Asian style and fill them with beef or chicken, and a bit of Asian spice.

4• Caramalised Pork Over Lettuce

A sweet pork dish with a hint of aromatic cinnamon. Can be served with rice.

5• Lettuce Wedges with Creamy Dressing

Soooo simple. Sooo refreshing. A great vegetarian starter or side dish. The dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance.

6• Lettuce, Carrot and Cucumber Juice

This will refresh you on a hot day and give you a great nutrient boost on any day! It’s alkaline, so good for inflammation, and reviving, making it the perfect drink for those ‘tired out’ days.

7• Strawberry, Pecan, Lettuce Salad

Yes, OK, it’s lettuce in a salad . . . but it *is* a strawberry and pecan salad. Strawberries and pecans!! Mmm mmmmm!

8• Lettuce Boats with an assortment of fillings

An alternative to the lettuce wrap . . . lettuce boats! Fill them with all sorts of chicken, tuna or prawn mixes. Great ideas for starters. Most can be served warm or cold.

9• Tangy Lettuce Slaw

You’ve heard of coleslaw . . . well this is the lettuce version! Choose your favourite lettuce and add Dijon mustard, lemon, mayonnaise, cucumber, celery and salt.

10• Pickled Lettuce – Sweet and Sour (Parve)

A gentle version of sauerkraut. Great as a side dish or in a sandwich.

[Photo by quinnanya from Flickr.]

 

10 Great Spinach Recipes

1• Parmesan Spinach Cakes

Full of cheesy and spinachy yumminess. Use as part of breakfast with sausages, as a side dish or as part of a main meal. (From http://www.eatingwell.com)

2• Spicy Baked Eggs with Spinach and Yoghurt

A quick, Turkish-style egg dish with a spicy kick. (From http://www.waitrose.com)

3• Shrimp and Orange Spinach Salad

Perfect for anyone who loves the Chinese taste of ginger, soy sauce and sesame. (From http://www.chinesefooddiy.com)

4• Greek Spinach Pie

Spinach, garlic, pastry, onions and feta – straight from the Mediterranean. (From http://www.bfeedme.com)

5• Greek Spinach Cheese Rolls

The ideal companion for soup and great for picnics and sandwich boxes. (From http://www.howstuffworks.com)

6• Spinach Gnocci

Make a few as a starter or lots for a filling main meal. Be prepared to get your hands spinachy! (From http://www.waitrose.com)

7• Spinach Frittata

Spinach omelette-style with a kick of sun-dried tomatoes. Mmm mmm! (From http://www.elise.com)

8• Spinach Cannelloni with Bacon and Walnuts

An Italian favourite finished with spicy nutmeg. Make it with or without bacon. (From http://www.foodandwine.com)

9• Creamed Spinach Gratin

Cheesy, garlicky, spinachy yum. Add mashed potato for a vegetarian shepherd’s pie. (From http://www.whatwereeating.com – scroll down for the recipe)

10• Cream of Spinach Soup

A warming soup with chicken broth and sour cream. Substitute with vegetable stock to make it vegetarian. (From http://www.elise.com)

 

All Hail the Red Pepper – Gorgeous Stuffed Peppers

Red PepperThe red pepper . . . what a creature of gorgeousness. Oh, I’m in rapture. I’ve just stuffed and roasted a red pepper for the first-time ever and only contented grunting sounds can describe how darn good it was!

My Mum used to make a great stuffed pepper back in the day and the taste of this gem brought back lovely memories.

How to Make Stuffed Peppers

If you haven’t roasted a pepper before, here’s the drill:

• Slice top to bottom, including the green sticky-outy bit, and scrape out all the seeds and white bits inside. Alternatively just slice the top off to use as a lid and keep the ‘bell’ intact (that’s what Mum used to do and, to be honest, cut in halves it didn’t hold the stuffing so well, but that’s what all the recipes were saying to do).

• Paint the pepper inside and out with olive oil and season

• Place cut sides down on a tin or baking sheet of some sort and put it in the oven at 170ºC for about 10 minutes then take it out and let it cool

• In the meantime work on your stuffing

• Stuff your pepper and pop back in the oven for about 20 minutes, this time covered with foil

My stuffing was made up of what I fancied at the time, which happened to be onion, mushrooms, cabbage, raisins, sesame seeds, gruyère cheese and risotto rice – the stickiest rice I could find to gum it all together. Yummmmmmm!

When roasted, the pepper takes on a totally different taste to the one it has when eaten raw and it’s mighty tasty. Now I will pray to the god of veg boxes, “Please let more of these heavenly things grace my box soon”.

Cauli Curry in a Hurry

Cauliflower

The star of this week’s veg box is a lovely looking cauliflower. It’s the first time a cauli has appeared in the box – and the first time one has appeared in my kitchen!

It’s silly really as cauliflower is a close relation to my favourite vegetable, broccoli. I can’t really say why I haven’t given it a proper chance before, but that’s the beauty of veg boxes – what gets delivered is what gets cooked.

Cauliflower Curry

I found a US recipe for a cauliflower curry, but it’s full of ‘cups’ and a million spices so I decide to make it up as I go along. All in all the meal takes about 20 minutes to cook, which means the rice and the curry can be cooked side by side and are ready together.

After putting the rice on I melted some butter in a large saucepan and added 2 1/2 teaspoons of curry powder, and two chopped up cloves of garlic. Then I chopped an onion and threw that in. After a few minutes I added the entire chopped up cauliflower and about 2 glasses of water. This was left to steam for about 5 minutes before I added a glass full of frozen peas and a handful of chopped parsley. After about another 5 minutes I added a small tin of plum tomatoes and when they were heated through the curry was done. As I like a slightly thicker curry, I added a little more water and a bit of flour at the end to bulk up the liquidy base.

This quick cauli curry is mighty tasty, but don’t cut the florets too small or they’ll turn to a tasteless pap! With larger florets you can still taste the freshness of the cauliflower through the curry flavours, which is really nice.

The Benefits of Spices

There could be more benefits to this meal than just a good taste. Scientists have found that combining spices such as turmeric with cruciferous veg like cauliflower and broccoli provides a great nutrient boost that can have protective and even healing effects on prostate cancer. You can read more here.

 

Beetroot Soup and Beetroot Nutrients

BeetrootBeetroot is one of those veggies I’ve always eyed with suspicion so, rather than having it staring at me all week, I thought my pack of cooked beetroot should be the next on the chopping block. After searching for ideas, I decided that a beetroot soup was in order.

Basic Beetroot Soup

I took one of the onions, cut it up and sweated it in some butter. Then I added all the beetroot (it was a packet of 4 small cooked beets) and simmered the ingredients in a pint of vegetable stock. All that was left to do was to whizz it up with my hand blender. After pouring into a bowl, I added a dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkling of fresh chopped chives.

I like making soups and I can confidently say that this is the worst one I’ve ever tried – I just don’t like the taste of cooked beetroot! Bleugh! Half way through eating it I gave up. I tried to persevere as I know beetroot is a ‘superfood’, but it just couldn’t be done.

Beetroot Nutrition

Beetroot (according to The World’s Healthiest Foods website) is a great source of (in descending order): • Folic acid • Manganese • Potassium • Fibre • Vitamin C • Magnesium • Tryptophan • Iron • Copper • Phosphorus. You can find the complete nutritional profile for beets here.

Next time beetroot turns up in the box, I hope it’s raw. Raw beetroot is great juiced – lovely and sweet. (UPDATE: My beetroot juice is here.)

With my next box due to arrive in a couple of days, I took a stock take of Box 1. The remaining potatoes were destined to be mashed and I could fry the last two onions and mix them in. I fancied this with a couple of fried eggs on top. All the carrots had been dunked in houmous and I’d started the garlic. This left the rest of the garlic, 1/2 the celeriac and the red cabbage. What am I going to do with a whole red cabbage?! I’ve only ever known it pickled before and I can’t find any recipes that get my tastebuds going.

Root Vegetable Gratin Recipe – Quick, Easy and Very Tasty

After my first veg box arrived, I decided to start with the veg I liked the least – the dreaded turnips. When I searched the Internet for turnip recipes, the one that kept coming up was for Root Veg Gratin. All the gratin recipes were practically the same with variations on the types of veg and cheese used.

How to Make a Root Veg Gratin

The dish is layered lasagna style with alternating layers of root vegetables and cheese and onion. It’s really easy to do and doesn’t take long to prepare.

The first step is a lot of chopping

Select three of four different kinds of root vegetables and cut them in thin slices about 3mm wide.

Many recipes said to use 1kg of veg, but I just used the amount I had, made up of turnips, celeriac and potatoes. I peeled the turnips and celeriac first, but left the potato skins on.

While you are chopping heat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 F, Gas Mark 4).

Next, chop your onions and cheese

I used crumbly goats cheese, but you can use any cheese you like that melts well. The stronger cheeses will give the dish more flavour, such a a good strong cheddar.

Now layer it up

Start with a layer of root vegetables. It’s up to you whether you have a complete layer of one type of veg or vary the veg. I varied the veg in my layers. Then scatter some chopped onion and cheese over the veg layer. Repeat this until you have run out of ingredients.

And top it off

When the layering is complete, a mixture of cream (142ml pot) and milk (150ml) is poured slowly over the top to sink in down through the layers. To finish, you top the dish off with more cheese, little knobs of butter and nutmeg. Easy!

Cook for an hour at 180 degrees C

After about 20 minutes at 180 degrees, there was a surprisingly enticing smell coming from the oven, but I had to wait for the full hour to be up (or until the top was golden). And I still wasn’t sure about those turnips . . .

The Taste Test

Well, it smelt good and it looked good, and it tasted delicious! That was unexpected.

Each slice of veg was nicely al denté and held a subtle flavour. The celeriac, which I’d never tasted before, had a hint of celery and wasn’t overpowering at all. The turnip was hard to describe, but nice! I guess I just don’t like it in chunky stews.

And the mark of a new recipe is this: would I have this root veg gratin again? Yes!

Veg Boxes Are Good For Breaking Habits

So far I think that having a veg box is a very good thing. It’s easy to get into the habit of eating the same things and by having a veg box I’m definitely getting more variety in my diet – and I’m getting to try things I never would have chosen to.

There are lots of different gratin recipes on Waitrose.com.