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A thousand ways to eat lettuce

Lettuce - Supplied photo
Lettuce
— image credit: Supplied photo

Special to The Record

 

It’s salad season!

But not just any old salad, an amazing variety of greens can be grown here in the Comox Valley and the Farmers’ Market is bursting with lettuces of every variety: red oak leaf, blushed butter oak, drunken woman frizzy head (really), blushed butter head or butter crunch (a cross between romain and butter lettuce).

Gone are the days of the hard ball of iceberg;  many of our farmers have cultivated a well-deserved respect for the not so humble (anymore) lettuce family and are bringing beautiful bundles to market this time of year. And local chefs are eager to work with them.

Vitamins and versatile

Lettuce is not only versatile, it is a source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium and iron; choose the darker varieties for more nutrients per serving. And did you know, the white fluid that you see when you break or cut lettuce leaves is called lactucarium? This has relaxing and sleep-inducing properties similar to opium but without the strong side effects. Simply eat a few leaves or drink some lettuce juice.

So what to do with all those greens? The Comox Valley Farmers’ Market is hosting its monthly food fest this week and the vendors have donated a variety of lettuces and other greens for our guest chefs to play with. Think salad rolls with shrimp or lettuce wrap with seared tuna along with fancy Farmers’ Market salad mix, topped with a few strawberries. The season also offers garlic scapes, kale and fiesta peppers to add flavour and colour to the mix.

Stav strolls the market

North Island Chef’s Association president Lesley Stav walked the market Saturday, looking for flavour compliments, and found  Estevan tuna, coonstripe shrimp, garlic Clever Crows Salt blends, Island Sodaworks soda pop, As You Like Its dressings, to top off the lettuce creations.

Lesley will be bringing their visiting interns to join Chef Laura Agnew (the Market’s resident Food Fest chef) in the fun. They are visiting from across Canada, and are looking forward to working with the West Coast flavour at the market.

The market runs from 9-12 Saturdays at the Exhibition Grounds.

 

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