Wordless Wednesdays

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Short Essay Extolling The Virtues of Romaine Lettuce

Wow. I feel as though I have not blogged in about 53,467 years. I realize that this is impossible is every way, shape, and form, but hey. It's been quite some time. My reasons for not blogging recently:
January week 1: I am sick.
January week 2: The boys get sick.
January week 3: The boys get worse. David comes down with pneumonia, Daniel with bronchitis and a slight ear infection, and Lucas starts wheezing. All three boys are on a nebulizer. Every 4 hours. 24/7. Help.
January week 3.5: Two visits to the ER within one week.
January week 4: All of us, except for Steve and the baby, get the stomach flu.
February week 1: First normal week for us since the week after Christmas.

Wow. Wow. Wow. And wow.

Any questions?

Very well.

And now...

A Short Essay Extolling the Virtues of Romaine Lettuce

By Mary Johnson, B.A. in Music with a double concentration in Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy & Literature, Magna Cum Laude in 3.5 years.


I have always loved vegetables, thanks to my parents who insisted upon serving them to me night after night after night after night after...well, you get the idea. I despised broccoli until I was about a teenager, and then one night, for no particular reason at all, I fell in love with the funny little "baby tree", and I have been quite passionate about broccoli since that blessed eve. If it's perfectly steamed (read: NOT overcooked), and drizzled with a little bit of olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper, it is very difficult NOT to love broccoli. But I digress. This essay is not about broccoli. It is about the more cruciferous cousin of broccoli. Yes; I am a very good girl when it comes to eating my veggies. But salads? Lettuce? Let me just say that I eat it because I know how good it is for me. And that's really about all. Unless it's positively drenched in a vinaigrette of the nose-tingling variety, I tend to be a bit lazy about the consumption of my leafy greens. Until one fateful day, on a complete and utter whim, I purchased a rather large bag of three whole heads of romaine because of a little inner dialogue that went a little something like this:
Me: Man, I really, REALLLLLYYYY need to start eating more leafy greens.
The Other Me: Yeah, yeah. You eat veggies every night. Give yourself a break.
Me: But what about lunch time? I cannot live by hotdogs/egg salad/tuna sandwiches/PB & J/cheese quesadillas alone!!
The Other Me: Sure you can!! And besides, you are soooo sick of your usual spring mix. It's a waste of money. You buy a container of spring mix, and by the end of the week, you cannot stand to even look at it. So it goes bad. Mushy greens. Wilted greens. Nasty, pungent greens. Eew, eew, and more eew.
Me: *lightbulb moment* Maybe...
The Other Me: Maybe??
Me: Maybe it's time to TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT!!

There are times when I am simply blown away by my own logic. Blown. Away.

And so I did.

I grabbed a rather robust looking bag labeled "Andy Boy Hearts of Romaine". As I stated earlier, it contained three large heads of romaine. I took them home. I lopped off the ends, then kept chopping all the way to the top in 2-3 inch increments. I washed the romaine in my salad spinner thingie ( I LOVE how that things whirrs...it's like it's part animal!). I whisked together a mustard vinaigrette. Drizzle, drizzle. Chopped ham. Hard-boiled eggs. I took a bite.


And then I knew. I knew I had found a lettuce that could work for me. Now let me be perfectly clear: this was NOT my first taste of romaine. But it had been a while. Too long, I tell you; too long! I shall now proceed to sing the praises of romaine lettuce.
It's crunchy. Oh, so crunchy. No soggy greens here!

Look at those greens. You can almost hear the *Crunch*!!
It's so incredibly fresh-tasting. No wilty taste here.

Look at that brilliant shade of green! Isn't it gorgeous?? Sigh.
I realize I may be one of very few people to devote an entire blog post the extoll the virtues of romaine lettuce, but it had to be done. I now happily spend my lunch time eschewing hot dogs and other things that I shouldn't even be feeding my own children and crunching away on my sweet, strong, stalwart, ever-so-crunchy, dependable, and most virtuous leaf of romaine. May this only be the beginning. Here is the recipe for a yummy salad and incredibly nostril-tingling dressing. Embrace the crunch!!

Romaine with Ham, Eggs, and Mustard Vinaigrette
Adapted from "A Homemade Life" by Molly Wizenberg

2 large eggs
1 small head of romaine, chopped into 2-3 inch chunks, rinsed and dried
2/3 c. cubed cooked ham (or cut up 2 slices of your favorite deli ham)

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (Maille or Roland brand. NO GREY POUPON, YA HEAR??)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil

Poach the eggs. Yes, I said poach. If you don't know how to poach an egg, just fill a small frying pan about halfway up with water and bring to a gentle boil. Crack the egg into a small ramekin or bowl. Once the water is gently boiling, carefully, oh so carefully pour the egg into the pan, taking care not to break the yolk. Reduce the heat slightly; cook for 4 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, blot on a towel, then you're good to go!
Toss the romaine with the ham. Whisk the dressing together until nice and emulsified. Remember those poached eggs? Lay them gently atop the salad, then drizzle with a good tablespoon or two (I like two!) of the dressing. Taste. Love it. Love it. Love it.
Yield: About 2 large servings, or 4 side-dish servings, although I must confess to eating the entire salad in one sitting and I even lived to tell about it! Hey, it was 2:00 pm, and I hadn't had any lunch yet. The most delightful thing about this salad is how the poached eggs contribute to the amazingness of the dressing. When the yolks break, it's like a small choir in heaven start to sing. Really. I think I heard them the other day. This is also a fantastic dinner when your kids want pancakes and eggs for dinner, your husband is working late because it's audit season, and you can't stand the thought of eating pancakes (again) for dinner.
One last little thingie:

How to store Romaine Lettuce:

*disclaimer* this method is as old as the hills, and you probably know all about it and have been doing it this way since before I was born, but I just thought I'd share anyway.

After chopping the romaine 2-3 inch chunks as prescribed above, wash it thoroughly in a salad spinner. Spread the romaine out into a single layer on a long section of paper towels. Blot them dry with another paper towel. Carefully roll up the romaine with the paper towel, and store in a large plastic bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible. The slight dampness of the paper towel helps keep it crisp and fresh. Take a look:

Using this method, the romaine will keep up to two weeks. Seriously! Store it in your crisper, and you'll be ever so much more inclined to pull it out for a quick and easy lunch.
So there you have it. Spring Mix may be the prom queen, but Romaine is the girl next door. Go for dependability. Listen...can you hear the crunch? I can. Go to it...go to it...go to it.


  1. "spring mix, the prom queen; romaine, the girl next door" -- too funny!

    ...and I have never, ever poached an egg...but you inspired me. :-)

  2. Yay, Jenny! So glad you enjoyed. Poached eggs are truly life-changing. :)

  3. We're big fans of poached eggs, too! I think it's the favorite style for all three of us. ;-) And I'm very intrigued by the dressing... Yum!

  4. Seriously, you make me laugh! I am a fan of romaine. Or green leafy. Don't often (ever) make a salad for our family, though.

  5. Rachel, I almost never make a salad for our family. 1) The kids won't eat lettuce just yet. 2) It's much easier to steam some broccoli than assemble a salad. Oh, and I have been totally meaning to accept my blog award, but I'm blanking on what exactly I need to do. My brain isn't so hot these days...