When I was a foodie one of my favorite things to eat in the summer was French breakfast radishes smeared with high fat European butter, delicately sprinkled with fleur de sel. So simple yet so heavenly. We always paired this with a dry mineraly Aligoté or a soft dry rosé. A chef friend of ours frequently made this when we went to his house for Sunday dinner. To me it meant great food was coming. I recall this food memory every time I make salad and I’m breaking up a head of romaine lettuce or any head lettuce. Perhaps it’s the act of preparing something that I’m excited to eat that causes me to recall this memory.
I still love to eat something small, light and delicious as I prepare dinner. One of my favorite things to eat is the core of the lettuce.
You know the part that’s on the bottom that everyone throws away. I’m not talking about the light green heart, I’m talking about the part right under it. I like to slice it up and eat it as I’m making my salad. I equate this to the radish, butter and salt dish even though it tastes nothing like it. The flavor of the lettuce core is slightly bitter yet almost sweet. I love that it’s very crunchy and water rich. To me it’s the smartest part of the whole head of lettuce. It has the most complexity of flavor. It’s the part that’s closest to the earth so I assume it has the most nutrients, but don’t quote me on that.
Most lettuce in the stores barely has a detectable flavor and the best part is thrown away because it has too much flavor. Of course the best lettuce comes from the farmers market but even that, unless it’s an heirloom variety, still doesn’t have too much flavor. I hope the next time you make a salad you will save and eat your lettuce core. Try it, you’ll like it.