Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Braised little gems

Summer, it seems, is finally here. We are half way through the first week of Wimbledon and there's not been a spot of rain. Is this a first? It is not super hot, but the sun is shining and there is a gentle breeze in the air. English summer at its best...

I've always been intrigued by recipes for cooked lettuce. To me, the joy of lettuce is that it is crisp and fresh. Cooking it seems all wrong. I imagine something flabby and stringy and not even vaguely pleasant. You'd think that I'd leave it at that. But no. The idea has been playing on my mind lately. The recipes usually involve peas. And anything involving peas is good, is it not?

My curiosity got the better of me and so it was that I found myself braising some Little Gem lettuces on Sunday night.

What have I been missing all my life? It was superb. I'm totally unable to explain why soggy lettuce should taste good, but trust me; it does. Actually, it wasn't soggy at all. It retained a pleasing crunch. And it was perfect with a bit of simply grilled fish. This comes thoroughly recommended.

Braised Little Gems with Peas and Spring Onions

Serves 2 (easily halved, or doubled)


2 small Little Gem lettuces, outer leaves removed
1 mug of peas (frozen is fine)
5 spring onions
200ml chicken stock
2 tablespoons creme fraiche

1. Chop the lettuce into strips and the spring onions into thin slices.

2. Melt a knob of butter in a non-stick frying pan and then add the spring onions. Fry until starting to soften. Add the lettuce and the peas and stir to coat in the buttery oniony juices.

3. Pour over the hot stock and bubble away for ten minutes or so. You want most of the liquid to evaporate (you can always pop a lid on the pan if it disappears too quickly).

4. Just before serving, add the creme fraiche and stir to combine. Heat through and season with pepper. Taste before adding any salt - the stock is usually pretty salty.


Wendy said...

Jeez, it's cold, wet and windy up here. Make the most of the nice weather for me!
I haven't cooked lettuce yet but looking at this picture, I will be soon.

Peter M said...

Nice to see fresh peas in the market (and at the table) over there.

I love braised lettuces and greens..after the water content's gone, delish aren't they? said...

They look lovely, I've eaten them in restaurants before but not tried cooking them myself. What did you eat with them?

Sandie said...

If you think braised lettuce tastes good, you ought to try a wilted spinach salad... Just in case you haven't, they are strangely, wonderfully delicious!

I found your site from a comment you left on Kalofagas, regarding the future of your gin and tonics due to soaring lemon prices. Too funny!

While I haven't read through your whole blog, your "about me" section sounded just like something I would write, so it's nice to "meet" my English counterpart!

Sylvie said...

Lovely looking dish!

Antonia said...

Wendy -sorry to hear you have cold weather. Ours is variable (lots of rain last night) but good on the whole. Long may it last!

Peter - peas are a huge favourite of mine, it has to be said.

Ginger - I actually ate them with some plain grilled chicken but next time will definitely serve them with grilled fish of some kind with a squeeze of lemon.

Sandie - thank you for visiting! I look forward to hopping over your blog to discover more. I love spinach in salads but usually serve it raw - I 'll have to try braising next time.

Sylvie - it was very tasty and I'll be making it again soon, I'm sure.

Hippolyra said...

I loved braised lettuce Antonia, do also try a lettuce soup, just lettuce, some stock and some broken pasta.

And when they are back in season, do roast Brussel sprouts, it will be a similar conversion.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Totally with you on cooking lettuce like that. Often, though, I can't even be bothered with the braising - I just saute them on each side, and serve with goats' cheese and good olive oil. Delish!