Good Eats: Little Gems Lettuce

My mystery box offered up several Little Gems lettuces last week, a most pleasant event indeed! We featured them here a few years back but they’re well worth revisiting.

Little Gems look like tiny versions of Romaine lettuce, with a crisp, crunchy texture and a sweet flavor. My favorite way to serve them couldn't be easier: simply cut in half and drizzled with a nice lemon-shallot vinaigrette. Occasionally, I'll sprinkle on some thinly sliced radish or a few capers, but mostly I let them shine straight up. Guests really enjoyed the knife-and-fork experience of being served a whole lettuce and when I could find them in the market, I always bought a few. But this week I tried something new.

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Little Gems in a Frying Pan

Cut a Little Gem in half as usual but this time place it cut side down in a hot frying pan with about a tablespoon of butter. Lower the heat to medium, cover, and cook about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cut side has browned and the lettuce has just started to wilt. Meanwhile, cut a lemon in half and remove the seeds. When the lettuce is done, turn off the heat and remove it from the pan onto a plate. Squeeze a little lemon juice into the frying pan. Swirl, then pour over the lettuce, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simple and delicious and it takes no more than five minutes. Serves one or two, depending on the size of the lettuce

Little Gems are a bit hard to find in the grocery store but I’ve had great luck at farmer’s markets. And we all know that if you keep asking for something, eventually someone will catch on and make it available. Trust me, Little Gems lettuce is worth nagging for.

(Images: Dana)