Romaine-ing the Stove
October 28th, 2010 - By Lari Robling
One of the nice things — that makes up for shoveling snow — is that when you live where there are four distinct seasons, your daily menu changes along with your wardrobe. While I miss the fresh corn and tomatoes I will appreciate them when they make their reappearance at the farmer’s market. And some changes are in the technique rather than the ingredient. Take romaine lettuce, for example. In the summer it is a salad staple, but don’t think it has to relegated to Caesar salad all winter. Have you ever tried braised romaine? It’s a delicious way to eat your greens, but far more comforting as our taste moves from light and fresh to heartier fare. I think it tastes a little bit like fresh asparagus.
Here’s all you do. Take a head of romaine, rinse it and dry it and cut it half lengthwise. It’s good to keep all the leaves attached at the bottom, but not to fret if you don’t. You can cook both halves or keep one half for salads but just remember it will cook down considerably as spinach does. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat and put the cut side of the lettuce on the pan. It will sizzle and that’s good. After you get a good sear, turn and repeat on the other side. Add about a quarter cup of broth or water, reduce heat to simmer and put the lid on. Check to make sure your liquid doesn’t disappear completely. In about ten minutes the romaine should be cooked down.If there is more liquid in the pan, take the lid off and allow it to cook down. You can dress it with a little more olive oil and a grating of cheese or whatever seasoning you like.
Don’t forget other lettuces take well to cooking such as bibb and even iceberg. Think Asian and try making steamed lettuce bundles.