And for Dessert…Lettuce?
I’m a bit obsessed with lettuce lately. Can you tell? This week I’ve been thinking outside the salad bowl, and looking at using lettuce in non-traditional ways. Of course, if you’re going to cook lettuce or use it as a vessel to hold something, spring mix just won’t do. A heartier, thicker leaf is mandatory – think grilled romaine or the crunchy crispiness of an Asian lettuce cup.
The New York Times’s Martha Rose Shulman uses lettuce in a green mole sauce for chicken, her colleague Tara Parker Pope whipped up a yummy-sounding lettuce and green garlic soup, and Emeril Lagasse tops smoked salmon with a sauce made from lettuce, capers, parsley and shallots. The Sicilians boil lettuce into broth to sooth stomach ailments, and in her cookbook “The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen,” Grace Young advocates stir-frying it: “High heat and quick cooking punches up the natural flavor and texture of your ingredients — it allows an ingredient’s flavor to bloom,” she says. “It’s one of the nicest ways to enjoy lettuce.”
When it comes to versatile lettuce, we are of course completely in love with the newest member of Mann’s lettuce line up: RomaCrunch™. A traditional hybrid of romaine and iceberg, RomaCrunch has a small, tight head that breaks out into perfect portion-size cups. It gets its crunchy sweetness from its iceberg mama, and its pretty greenness from papa romaine.
Not only does it stand up well to heat, but due to its delicate flavor I decided it would be a fun way to serve a dessert. Creamy lemon pudding is a perfect foil for the cold crispness of the lettuce, and blackberries and toasted pistachios add just the right amount of contrast color and texture. When I called some of my colleagues into the test kitchen to try my newest concoction, there were more than a few raised eyebrows. Thankfully, one bite changed their minds.
RomaCrunch™ Lettuce Cups with Lemon Pudding & Blackberries
- 2 heads RomaCrunch lettuce, bases cut off and divided into whole leaf cups
- Lemon pudding (recipe below)
- 1 pint blackberries
- ¼ cup roasted, chopped pistachio meats
- Lemon zest for garnish
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of chilled lemon pudding into each RomaCrunch cup. Top each with a blackberry and sprinkling of roasted pistachios and lemon zest. Serve cold.
Makes approximately 20 pieces.
- 6 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus more for garnish
- ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 3 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
In a medium saucepan (off heat), whisk together yolks, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, salt and ½ cup of milk until smooth. Whisk in remaining 2 cups milk.
On medium heat, bring mixture to a gentle simmer, whisking constantly. Once it reaches a simmer, the mixture will thicken. Pull off heat when it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Pour mixture into a mixing bowl and place a layer of plastic wrap directly on top. Refrigerate until pudding cools completely, 2-3 hours, before serving.
Makes about 4 ½ cups of pudding.