Lush leafy greens are a welcome sight on the farm in the middle of winter! Currently, we are growing a gorgeous crop of hydroponic lettuce in our greenhouse adjacent to the Belleville Country Store. Nutrients in circulated water flow through pipes, allowing tiny little seeds to develop a network of roots and grow into wavy heads of lettuce in just five weeks. And if you remember the taste of lettuce from your grandma’s garden, a bite of this tender green will take you back to those good ole days.
We call this hydroponic lettuce “Living Lettuce” at Eckert’s. And while these 6″ diameter heads of lettuce don’t grow much more once you take them home, they do remain lush and green for 1-2 weeks if you leave them in a bowl of fresh water. I usually grab a couple heads from the store when I shop because I need one for dinner and one to place on my table to add a pop of live green color to the space.
This week we are celebrating homegrown lettuce and Florida’s citrus season by making Living Lettuce Winter Salad with Orange Vinaigrette. The recipe makes a cup and a half of dressing which means you will have a little extra for a salad the next day. (The dressing is yummy drizzled on a bowl of sliced fruit.)
Fresh orange juice and orange zest in the dressing enhance the citrus flavors in the sliced fruit. Fresh pear and grapes add nice color and texture to the mix of fresh ingredients. For the most tender bites of grapefruit, I recommend cutting the flesh out of the grapefruit skin (search “peel and segment a grapefruit” if you would like to see how its done). If you are a cheese lover like me, feta crumbles make a nice addition to the salad as well.
I hope you will stop by Eckert’s Belleville Farm soon to see our Living Lettuce growing in the greenhouse. Grab a head in the produce department and take it home to try! I am certain you will love the tender, fresh greens as much as I do.
Eat well this winter,
Eckert’s Living Lettuce Winter Citrus Salad with Orange Vinaigrett
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tsp. orange zest, finely grated
3 Tbs. fresh squeezed orange juice
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup EVOO
Whisk together the first 6 ingredients. Add oil in a steady stream, whisking until blended. Store dressing in covered, 8-ounce canning jar in refrigerator. Not all of the dressing will be used in salad recipe below; remaining dressing can be used with fresh fruit or greens salads.
Makes: 1 1/3 cups.
2 heads of Eckert’s Living Lettuce leaves, torn or 4 cups baby salad greens
2 oranges, peeled and cut into thin round slices
1 large grapefruit, peeled, sectioned with membrane removed
1 semi-firm unpeeled red pear
1 to 2 cups seedless red or green grapes, halved
2 to 3 Tbs. walnuts or pecans, chopped
Arrange torn lettuce pieces on a large platter. Arrange fruit on top. Drizzle with dressing; top with nuts. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 to 5 servings.