Thursday, June 14, 2012

Green Leaf Lettuce Overdrive Needs A-Dressing

 My dear husband and I have been married for more than two decades. We've accomplished this feat through many a compromise and by leaving unsaid many critiques of each other's differing systems for doing things. Dan is the linear thinker; the rational one, who plans things out before plunging ahead on a project. I'm more apt to go with the flow and start in on something in a haze of creative chaos.

We had ONE garden plot when we first moved to our little parcel of rural heaven, but after the first year, we decided to each have our own separate garden spaces after we nearly did each other in with our hoes and trowels. Dan is banned from weeding my garden patch, having strangulated too many little plants that I thought would develop into something edible and I am banned from traipsing through his carefully tended rows (I apparently leave footprints in the wrong spots).

Here's my garden plot:

Note the mixture of flowers and herbs and vegetables and the somewhat crooked edging job that I did. I like to wait each Spring and see what stuff has reseeded itself before turning every over, unlike SOMEONE I know. The yellow flowering bush is actually a couple of kale plants that overwintered and went to seed. I left them in because they are pretty and attract lots of flying pollinators, but it makes Dan crazy to have something unproductive in there when we could be putting in something we are actually going to eat someday.

Now here's my beloved's garden spot:

I can assure you that all the plants are in perfectly straight rows (he uses string and stakes to lay out his seed furrows, whereas I kind of squat in and dig somewhat meandering rows when I plant). Weeds pretty much don't dare to show up in his garden beds. But he does have the biggest harvests by far. All his meticulous soil preparation and diligent diggings really do bring home the veggies.

Which brings me to the point of this post (about time!), which is to showcase the bumper crop of Green Leaf Lettuce that ol' Farmer MacGregor has been pumping out. It's been Lettuce-palooza this season with our abundant Spring rains and cooler temperatures. We have had some delectable, tender salads and have given away bags of lettuce to our friends and neighbors. You'd think it was zucchini season!

While we normally just dress our garden grown salads with a simple vinaigrette, maybe with a little crushed garlic and Dijon mustard if we really want to gussy things up, but I thought it would be a nice change of pace to make a creamy herb dressing to take advantage of the weeding I've been doing back in my garden plot. I usually have enough volunteer dill and cilantro plants to weed out of my spring rows and freeze in cubes for the winter, and those perennial chive plants pump out lots of chives and chive blossoms to grace our table as well. The chive blossoms have a mild onion flavor and when you pick them off of the blossom head they look so lovely sprinkled over pastas, salads and casseroles.

I pulled out the blender, got out some Greek yogurt and snipped away at a pile of spring herbs to make this delightful creamy herb dressing:

Springtime Creamy Herb Dressing

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. water
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped spring herbs: I used dill, chives and chive blossoms
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. sugar (optional, but I think it cuts the acidity of the vinegar)

Place all ingredients in a blender and whizz around until completely blended. It will be a delicate pastel green color.

Makes 1 cup dressing.

This really dresses up a plain plate of lettuce and makes it an elegant salad, with some extra snipped chives and chive blossoms to garnish the top.

I am sending this luscious salad dressing over to Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free, a monthly festival of food ideas started by Naomi of Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried, and hosted this month by Against All Grain.


Debra Eliot said...

I have lettuce envy. I had early spring lettuces, but now as I try to reseed the plots, there is some critter that likes to eat the seeds and roll around in the dirt where I have planted. I have no idea what it is---armadillo, brown thrasher, raccoon, rabbit?????

Love your garden btw. We follow the same credo---if it grows, let it be! :)

Anonymous said...

that sounds so delicious! yum!!

Anonymous said...

I wish my landlord would let me have a garden, that looks beautiful. And tasty.

Simona said...

Dan would shake his head in disbelief if he saw my patch. It's an experiment in serendipitous gardening, but I suspect he'd see it as an experiment in garden entropy. Are the light purple heads in the foreground chives? I am collecting mine to make an infused vinegar. I am totally with you on kale: I have not planted any kale since the very first year. It's a great reseeder, at least in my area. This year I've had also chard reseed itself and now I am experimenting with radish. The list is longer. On the other hand, I am not very good with lettuce, so I too have a bit of lettuce envy. And I like the dressing you prepare. I should really try to use some of my yogurt to make salad dressing.