Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Salad Days

Lettuces in our garden. The one on the left is the lollo rosso (looseleaf) kind
and the one on the right is the batavian type.

Summer is officially here! And to celebrate it, I’m posting an entry about the lettuce we planted. We have two kinds: the summer crisp cultivar, also known as Batavian and the other is the looseleaf (lollo rosso) type. I’m not that very fond of green salad before but with a husband who loves salad, particularly green salad, I’ve come to appreciate them. And since they’re not that difficult to grow, we usually sow lettuce seeds during spring. So, come summertime, we have our own lettuce from our backyard --- free and just within our reach. And with the high price of lettuce these days (it’s now double the “normal” price), planting them is quite practical. Some people might say it’s not that economical since you have to buy seeds, water them, plus you have to put time and effort in planting and caring for them. Well, I would say that seeds are not that expensive compared to buying seedlings. And maybe now, the price of a sachet of seeds is the price of a lettuce head or two. As for the water, we usually collect rain water and use it to water our plants so we don't consume that much tap water. Concerning the time and effort in gardening… well, we like doing it, so it’s not much of a big deal. In the final count, planting lettuce is a win-win activity for us.

And yesterday, we prepared green salad using lettuce from our garden the garden (and it will be like this for the coming days for we planted enough to last for some time, even if we eat salad everyday!). Well, for this dish, we normally just use lettuce dressed in vinaigrette (called French dressing outside France. It is three parts oil and one part vinegar/citrus juice. But you can buy ready-made vinaigrette in the supermarkets). Then we add onion, parsley, mustard, garlic and pepper and a dash of salt --- well, these depend on the French dressing you’ll use because some of them already contains these condiments/garnishing. But we love onion and my husband loves parsley, so, regardless of the dressing, I still add them in rather “large” quantities (“large” compared to the “normal” portions… yeah I know, it’s embarrassing to converse with someone after eating onions or garlic… so I limit their use when we have friends coming over).From time to time, we add tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, bell peppers, anchovies, shrimp, etc. for variation. But basically, green salad at home is really green --- lettuce and parsley *grins*.

Salad is easy to prepare but I find cleaning the lettuce head a bit tedious. You have to wash them to get rid of the dirt and other insects/tiny crawlers that hide in the folds of the leaves (meaning you have to wash them leaf by leaf). The general way of cleaning it is to use tap water first, then, immerse the leaves in water with vinegar (a way of thoroughly cleaning the leaves since they will be eaten raw). Then dry them. Good thing there’s a salad spinner --- a circular container with a strainer inside and you grip the handle/knob on the lid and spin it to dry the leaves (works like a laundry dryer). Without this device, I think drying will be a lot more difficult. With a salad spinner, you just put the leaves in the container, spin and you’ll get rid of about 85-90% of the water on the leaves in a short time (This is according to my estimation. But I suppose if you spin long enough, you’ll get an almost water-free leaves). Well, I guess eating fresh green salad is worth a bit of effort :). Plus, lettuce is fat free and rich in vitamin A and folic acid --- good for one’s health.

Speaking of nutritional values, according to Greek mythology, eating lettuce is good for women because it promotes lactation and proper functioning of the reproductive system. It can even induce conception without copulation --- allowing Héra to conceive Hébé (the goddess of youth) after eating a lettuce head. On the other hand, it has an opposite effect on men --- it decreases their libido or makes them impotent. So, in ritual banquets reserved for men, lettuce is excluded (source: wikipedia).

Well, I don’t know if these stories have some scientific basis, but as far as many nutritionists are concerned, lettuces are beneficial to one’s health. And green salad can be eaten as entrée (starter), main dish or side dish (I believe the French also use it to accompany their cheese course). And the lettuce from our garden is crunchier, more savory, not to mention pesticide-free and a lot fresher. Hahahaha, I know I’m just biased but then, I believe everyone is allowed to crow about the fruits of their labor, literally and figuratively, once in a while *grins*. If I seem to be bragging, please excuse me. I’m just happy to have something on our table that directly came from our own garden *winks*.


Unknown said...

Good job. All of it looks attractive as well as appetizing.

Bevson said...

I planted lettuce this year too, but it started to bolt already. Weird. Yours looks gorgeous. With the high price of food, we should all be planting veggies.

lareine said...

to davidlind: thanks!!! they really taste a lot better than what you can buy in the supermarkets --- hahahaha, i know i'm really gloating... just bear with me... i'm really happy to have grown them...

to bevson: it happens from time to time... i think it depends on the phase of the moon on the day you planted them... well, i think so because here, we have calendars on favorable/auspicious days for planting veggies and flowers... and yep, we should really try to economize as much as we can these days... and having veggies in the backyard is one way :)

Anonymous said...

I am so envious with your salad garden -I know, I know it's wrong to be envious. *smile*

But I love eating veg and it's so expensive to buy them in the supermarket (and we cannot be sure of the chemicals sprayed on them)...we grow few (because we have a limited backyard) local veg though(which are compatible with Philippine climate) .

lareine said...

to mama meji: don't worry, i also get envious of my neighbors' gardens... they're always green, with lots of flowers and vegetables... a neighbor (well, actually around 2 blocks from us) is selling vegetables of the season...

yep, everything now is so expensive, that's why we are doing this... and even if you're growing just a few vegetables, it's already a big help in the family budget... and gardening is a good outdoor activity :)

Post a Comment