The garden is in full bloom. Edible flowers abound; the tomatoes are ripening - and we’ve already had way too many dinners that revolve around home-grown runner beans.
Yes - it’s the perfect time for a ‘garden lunch’ post.
Actually, to be honest, my original name for this post was going to be, ‘Not just a load of old lettuce leaves’.
I wanted to share with you the usefulness of the humble lettuce (and its various family members), not just as something ‘green, crunchy and healthy’ but as a fantastic way of serving food.
Say you are searching for a lighter alternative to a bun to hold your burger in on a hot sticky day, look no further than a large lollo rosso leaf to hold it and all the trimmings in.
Wanting a low carb alternative to a hot dog? Why not smear a large nasturtium leaf with some mustard or ketchup (or both), add some caramelised onions and roll it round a sizzling sausage fresh from the barbecue.
And of course, the star of today’s post, the bitter but oh so delicious chicory leaf makes the perfect ‘boat’ for holding all manner of tasty fillings.
You can of course let your imagination run wild with this depending on whether you are going vegan, veg or flex! Shredded chicken with a tamarind sauce perhaps? Feta cheese and olives with a mint dressing? Strips of tofu with sweet chilli? Anything goes.
However, today’s lunch filling was walnut mince, homegrown tomato salad and a lime honey dressing. Light, simple, delicious. With a few crackers, some goats cheese and fresh strawberries from the village market for afters, it hits the spot on a sticky summers day.
Both recipes for the walnut mince and dressing have appeared in this blog before - but even though I’m feeling kind of summertime lazy, I’ll include the recipes for you all below. After all, I myself hate having to swipe between pages when I’m cooking (and on top of that, my ipad gets all sticky).
Let’s celebrate the lettuce leaf as it is! A multi-tasking holder of all things delicious.
Recipe for ‘mince’ and dressing below!
INGREDIENTS AND METHOD ( makes 5 chicory boats)
- 5 chicory leaves
- 2 diced tomatoes
- a 10 cm piece of cucumber (or zucchini) cut into small squares
FOR THE MINCE
TAKE 1/2 cup of walnuts, 1/8 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp ground cumin and 1/2 tbsp tamari or soya sauce.
ADD to blender and pulse a couple of times so that walnuts are roughly chopped. Go easy on the pulsing otherwise you'll have a sticky paste on your hands.
FOR THE DRESSING
ADD 3 teaspoons honey, 4 tablespoons good quality olive oil and 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice in a blender.
Give it a good whizz and add salt and pepper to taste
- add a spoon of walnut mince and a spoon of tomato mixture to each boat
- sprinkle with edible flower petals or some micro herbs (I used cornflowers and calendula - fresh from the flower bed)
- pour over the remaining dressing.
So, that’s it for another day dear readers. I’m now off for lunch followed by a little snooze amongst the flower pots.
Until next time,