What to do with all that lettuce! (Guest post from Kate at Modern Alternative Mama)

June 8, 2010 · 17 comments

This guest post from Kate comes at a perfect time in my own kitchen.  I’m not sure how it happened, but I’ve got waaay too much lettuce in the fridge right now, and don’t you just hate letting anything go to waste?  Well, I guess I do know how it happened.  I felt like a salad last week so I got my first bunch of lettuce when I was at the store on Friday; then Saturday at the opening day of our farm market I just couldn’t resist those fresh, local greens; and then on Sunday, Jeanne brought back the leftover greens we didn’t use for our progressive dinner the other night.  (I’ll be posting about that dinner hopefully next week!)  So I’ll be using one of Kate’s below suggestions for dinner soon. :)

Thanks Kate!

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Lettuce.

If you are part of a CSA, or frequent the farmer’s markets that have now opened, you may be drowning in an abundance of it.  If you’re not, you should know that lettuce is in season now, so get thee to the store and pick some up!

I’m assuming you now have lettuce.  A lot of lettuce.  So what exactly are you going to DO with all of it?  Luckily, I’ve got a few ideas for you.  Over here, we go through at least 2 heads per week, and often more (and that’s just among the two adults).  So we have experience going through a LOT of lettuce!

Our favorite meal?  Taco salad.  Here’s how:

·         1 lb. grass-fed beef (Read more about grass-fed beef or find where to buy healthy meat on my resources page)

·         1 recipe seasoning mix (below)

·         1 medium head of lettuce, torn into bite-sized chunks

·         1 medium tomato, chopped OR fresh salsa (recipe below)

·         Raw cheddar cheese (we found an aged, sharp cheddar that we really like at Trader Joe’s)

·         Organic corn chips (please no non-organic as GMOs are a concern)

·         Other desired toppings: black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, sour cream, guacamole, etc.

Brown the ground beef and KEEP all that lovely grease.  Please?  It’s so good for you and it makes it taste so much better.  Add the seasoning mix (modified from this recipe):

·         1 tbsp. chili powder

·         ½ tsp. garlic powder

·         ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

·         ¼ tsp. dried oregano

·         ¼ tsp. paprika

·         2 tsp. ground cumin

·         1 tsp. sea salt

·         ½ tsp. black pepper

We actually octuple this recipe (read: times eight!) and keep it in a spice jar so we can use it easily whenever we want.  It’s a bit of a pain to mix up at first, but if you keep it on hand it’s just as easy as the packets are.  The directions are so simple I almost forgot to include them: put all ingredients in a small bowl and stir.  That’s it.

(NOTE FROM KELLY: Here is my recipe for Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix from my friend, Sue, and I’ve already figured out all the amounts for a batch that makes about 1 1/2 cups, perfect for a small jar.  You can see how it looks, before you shake it together, in this picture.  Isn’t that a neat shot?  Once in a great while I’ll snap a good one!  I actually thought it was super easy to mix together, too.  OK, back to Kate…)

Then, put a bunch of lettuce in a big bowl.  Top with the seasoned meat (works with chicken too) and whatever else you like.  Such as the salsa:

·         5 – 6 Roma tomatoes

·         ¼ c. red onion

·         ½ small bunch of cilantro

·         2 limes

·         Sea salt to taste

Cut the tomatoes into small chunks, removing the seeds and juice.  Mince the onion and mix it into the tomatoes.  Chop the cilantro loosely, removing stems, and add it.  Add the juice of two limes, then sea salt to taste.  Some people add black pepper and jalapenos; I find it’s more kid-friendly if I don’t (my 10-month-old LOVES this salsa!).

If you get bored with this taco salad (we never do), I have an awesome recipe for Caesar dressing, too.  Serve it up with garlic-butter croutons, some grilled chicken, and some fresh cheese.  We found a raw sheep’s milk Romano cheese at Trader Joe’s too.

There!  Two great uses for all that lettuce!  And since you can vary your taco salad toppings almost infinitely, it should never get old.  And it can be vegetarian sometimes if you’re trying to reduce your meat consumption.

What are your favorite uses for lettuce?

Kate blogs at Modern Alternative Mama about real food, natural living, parenting, and other “natural” subjects.  She lives in Ohio with her husband, Ben, and their two kids, Bekah, 2, and Daniel, 10 months.  She also sells an organic skin cream that has a multitude of uses, from diaper rash to dry, cracked feet, to soothing burns!  Kate enjoys everything that has to do with an all-natural lifestyle, even if most people do think she’s a little crazy.

MORE IDEAS FOR EXTRA LETTUCE:

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  • { 16 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Alex at A Moderate Life June 8, 2010 at 12:17 am

    Hey Kel! Thanks for sharing this great post with us at the Two for Tuesdays Recipe Blog Carnival that launched today! I LOVE taco salad, but I also use up left over lettuce by cooking it exactly like the old italian standby wilted escarole! Its much milder and tastes amazing with some grass fed butter, salt pepper and garlic and you can use a ton of lettuce that way, even bruised leaves work well! :)

    Reply

    2 gloria kobrin June 8, 2010 at 12:25 am

    My minestrone recipe gets quite a lot of it’s liquid from a chopped up head of lettuce! Uses up a whole bunch of other over bought produce as well :)

    Reply

    3 KitchenKop June 8, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Gloria, oh good, I saw your comment on Twitter, I’m so glad you popped over because I wanted to ask how you add it to your soup – just chop it up and toss it in? I’d never thought of lettuce in minestrone…
    Thanks!
    Kelly

    Reply

    4 Andrea June 8, 2010 at 1:29 am

    A friend of mine once forgot a bag of groceries out in her sun-porch mid-winter. By the time she discovered it the lettuce was mostly frozen and not that pretty looking. Hating to waste it, it was blended up in smoothies. You couldn’t even taste it – not that lettuce has a strong taste anyway. A great way to add more veggies into the day.

    Reply

    5 Primal Toad June 8, 2010 at 7:17 am

    That’s a lot of lettuce you have received over the weekend :)

    While I don’t necessarily have a lot of lettuce specifically, I have A LOT of greens!! Swiss chard is my favorite… we also have Kale, spinach, lettuce, mixed spring greens, savory cabbage (I think?), and turnip greens.

    Possibly the one thing I look forward to the most on a daily basis is my Big Ass Primal Salad (its what Mark calls it). Simply throw in greens, veggies, meat, and create a homemade salad dressing usually with an olive oil base.

    Yesterday I enjoyed one for dinner… Spinach and savory cabbage with 1 large tomato, 1 avocado, raw cheese, chicken, and a few other veggies that I can’t think of. It was amazing!

    You can never have enough greens around the house! :)

    Reply

    6 Janelle June 8, 2010 at 11:25 am

    I was watching a tv chef make a traditional Italian meal and it included barbequed frise. mmm it looked delicious

    Reply

    7 Anna June 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I second the smoothie motion!

    Or try a simple cream of greens soup. Heat up some homemade chicken or vegetable broth, add some chopped lettuce or greens (any sort) and fresh herbs or ground spices. Once the greens are tender, take the pot off the heat and puree right in the pan with a hand held stick blender (much easier and faster than transferring to a pitcher style blender and clean-up is a breeze). (add steamed chunks of veggies or leftover chunks of chicken or salmon if you want some texture variety or a hardier one-dish meal. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper and add half and half or cream. Warm up again if necessary, but don’t boil. Garnish with whole milk yogurt or creme fraiche/sour cream.

    Reply

    8 Martha June 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I had forgotten about taco salad. Thank you! The soup idea is good too. We have lots of lettuce from our two CSA shares right now.

    Reply

    9 Robyn June 8, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Here is a recipe from Emeril that’s actually called LETTUCE SOUP! I’ve always wanted to try it. It has awesome reviews.

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/lettuce-soup-recipe2/index.html

    Reply

    10 Emma June 8, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Another idea for a taco salad – black beans and/or pinto beans. They add another punch of protein, and if you add some cooked corn with them too, it gives even a vegetarian salad protein and flavor. You can probably cook them with the taco seasoning, but when I do pinto beans, I make them refried with raw organic honey and cilantro. Yum!

    Reply

    11 Kate June 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Thanks for letting me guest post, Kelly!! :)

    I’d love to see more about cooking black beans, I see some people mentioned it in the comments. I can’t cook beans to save my life (except plain). I love them in restaurants but who knows what else is in them besides spices….

    Reply

    12 butterpoweredbike June 9, 2010 at 12:20 am

    I use lettuce to tone down the strong taste of lovage (it has a strong celery flavor) in a pureed milk-based soup. Once the soup has gone through the blender, it has an airy texture, which I’m pretty sure is from the lettuce being whizzed up.

    It’s also easy to toss lettuce into any stir-fry or stove-top skillet recipe. It wilts down so much that it’s hardly noticeable.

    Sometimes I finely chop lettuce, and stir it into cooked rice with cilantro to make a green rice. I figure, if it grows in my garden, I will darned sure find a way to eat it.

    Reply

    13 Keesha June 9, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Green smoothies are a great way to enjoy an abundance of lettuce. I make mine with raw milk, yogurt, and a small amount of fruit.

    Reply

    14 Condo Blues June 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    How about some suggestions on what to do with kale? I’m swimming in CSA kale – help!

    Reply

    15 KitchenKop June 14, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    I’ll ask readers for suggestions on Monday! Stay tuned… :)

    Reply

    16 Meg July 5, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    We just tried taco salad tonight with half a head of CSA romaine, and a pound of pastured beef, seasoned with the taco seasoning in this post. Organic chips (next time I’ll make my own) salsa, avocado, and sour cream topped it, with a little bit of fresh lime juice at the end. We loved it! My boyfriend has fond memories of taco salad growing up, so he was pretty happy, and I was thrilled to show him that this taco mix was tastier than the nasty stuff in the packet (that’s what he grew up with). Easy meal to fix and not much hot stove time, either, which is great in this mondo heat wave we’re having in NYC. I expect we’ll be making this over and over – thank you so much! :)

    Reply

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