Lettuce, tons of lettuce this year. I think we’ve been averaging at least two heads of lettuce per CSA delivery this year. My crisper drawer overfloweth with leafy greens.
Who knew there was more to lettuce than just romaine or iceberg? The names are actually pretty cute, even if I still don’t necessarily know which one is which: French summer crisp, little gem, flashy butter gem, Sucrine romaine. And they’re rather pretty too– the little gem (I think) has scalloped edges and is a bright jade green, the flashy butter gem (I think) has purplish spots speckling a light green background. Eh– who am I kidding? It’s still lettuce, and its use is still limited to lettuce wrapped goodies or salads.
The challenge is to keep the salads interesting, and the trick to keeping salads interesting? Fat. No seriously– even if you think you’re a health conscious, light vinaigrette only, no cheese or bacon salad eater, well guess what? What makes your salad tasty to you is the fat in your vinaigrette. Our palates crave fat, for better or worse, and the cobb salad– with its piles of bacon bits, blue cheese, hard-boiled eggs, avocado chunks, and thickly layered with a creamy dressing– is perhaps the ultimate in dressing up lettuce with fatty goodness.
I decided to make a cobb salad but try to maximize the potential for good kinds of fat and variety of flavors in the salad. For the meat, I grilled lean turkey tenderloins, the grill imparting a slight smokey flavor which would mirror the bacon. The bacon is a lean, uncured bacon from a local butcher– a friend had given us a tip that the butcher near where John works sells the best bacon you’ll ever have. That doesn’t even begin to describe how good the bacon is. In any case, it yields little fat when you cook it up in the pan having little fat to begin with yet crisps up beautifully. Lastly, I played around with making my own dressing, blending together yogurt, cucumber, dill, and lemon juice so that the dressing was creamy yet cool and refreshing. As we sat down to eat this, John said that this was the quintessential big ass salad. True– this is a salad that I crave, and as we move into late summer heat, I’ll definitely make this again. Easing the burden on my crisper drawer is just an added benefit.
- 16 oz turkey tenderloins
- 1.5 tablespoons Montreal steak seasoning
- canola oil
- 2 eggs
- 4 strips bacon
- 1 head flashy butter gem lettuce
- 1 head little gem lettuce
- 1/2 cup snow pea pods, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
- 1 small avocado, diced
- 1/4 cup crumbled Danish blue cheese
- 2 medium beefsteak tomatoes, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
- juice of a lemon
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
- salt and pepper
Season turkey tenderloins with steak seasoning. When your grill is hot, quickly wipe it down with a piece of paper towel that has been soaked in canola oil. Grill tenderloins for 6-8 minutes per side or until dark grill marks form and an instant read thermometer reads a temperature of 160 degrees F. Remove tenderloins to a plate and tent with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing tenderloins on a bias, 1/4 inch thick.
While tenderloins cook, cook the bacon and hard boil the eggs. For perfectly hard-boiled eggs, place eggs in a pot then fill with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so that it gently boils for five minutes before turning off the heat, covering the pot with a lid and letting eggs continue to cook through for another 12 minutes. Drain water, and run eggs under cold water until cool to touch. Peel eggs and chop into 1/4 inch pieces. Crumble bacon into 1/4 inch pieces as well.
To make the dressing, place cucumber in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until cucumber is finely chopped, about 5-6 1 second pulses. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, sugar and dill and process until dressing is runny, about 15-20 seconds. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Wash and spin dry the torn lettuce with the chopped snow peas. Plate the lettuce and snow pea mix. If you want to be fancy, make rows on top of the salad, each row containing a single salad topping ingredient: tomato, avocado, hard boiled egg, blue cheese crumbles, and turkey. Make sure there are two rows of bacon turkey since it’s the star of the show. Drizzle dressing on top and serve remaining dressing at the table in case you wish to add more. This yields 2 very large entrée salads, but can be divided to make 4 smaller side salads.
CSA Count: 5
Flashy gem lettuce, little gem lettuce, snow pea pods, chives, dill