Baby Lettuce : Grocery store produce departments in my hometown seem to be getting bigger by the day. An increase in the availability of produce is one reason for this growth, especially in the lettuce section. Today, consumers have many choices, everything from salad kits, to fresh spinach, to baby kale, which is surprisingly good.
Baby lettuce, six miniature heads to a package, each one nestled in its cubby like an egg, just arrived in the grocery store I frequent. The first price was too much for me. When the store reduced the price, however, I bought a package. Last evening I made a salad of baby lettuce, match stick slices of sweet red pepper, garnished with crumbled bacon and croutons. It was fabulous.
Salad is usually on the menu at my house because my family doesn’t like cooked vegetables very much. I think it is the crunch that is appealing. By itself, lettuce has virtually no calories, only about two per leaf. Lettuce is a source of potassium, with 19.4 milligrams per leaf, and a source of Vitamins A and C. When you add cheese to salad dressing the calorie count goes up. So how can you cut calories?
You can do what I did and use low-fat buttermilk. You can use light mayonnaise or fat-free mayonnaise. (Yes, the product exists.) And you can use fat-free sour cream. Changes like these reduce the calories markedly. This salad is ideal for entertaining because you can assemble the ingredients in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for hours. The dressing can also be made ahead of time. Over time, the buttermilk will change the flavor of the cheese, so it is best to eat the dressing the same day you make it.
I served the salad with chicken, but it would also taste good with beef, pork, and fish. If you are willing to pay a little extra for Roquefort cheese, go for it.
3 heads of baby lettuce, leaves torn in two
1 sweet red pepper, thinly sliced
2 pieces of cooked bacon, crumbled
Focaccia croutons or fat-free croutons
1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup light mayonnaise, or fat-free mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese, or Roquefort cheese
Put the torn lettuce and red pepper slices in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine salad dressing ingredients and stir with a spoon or spatula. Don’t over-stir because you want the clumps of cheese to still be visible. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently. Garnish with crumbled bacon and a few croutons. Makes about five servings.