Cooking With Lettuce

Cooking With Lettuce

Part of Ep. 1302 Lettuce Grow!

Madison chef Rafe Montello demonstrates lettuce uses in soups, Asian wraps and more.

Premiere date: Jun 29, 2005

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Well, now you know how to grow it. Now, we're going to teach you how to cook with lettuce. We're in the Whole Foods kitchen. I'm with Chef Rafe Montello, owner of the "We're Cooking Now" agency. Rafe, this smells wonderful. What are you doing?

Rafe Montello:
It should, Shelley, it's garlic, onion and butter. What could be better?

Shelley:
There's no lettuce!

Rafe:
We're going to get to the lettuce. Actually, we're going to be doing braised lettuce.

Shelley:
Braising?

Rafe:
Which is a dish you don't often see, although it's a well regarded part of classical repertoire. So, we start with our sauteed onions. We don't really want to caramelize the onions, just soften them a little. Put in our smashed garlic. Then, we're going to use two different lettuces. We have our romaine, which has a little bit more of the crunchiness factor to it.

Shelley:
And you've got whole leafs of the romaine. We can take a look at its thicker stem.

Rafe:
What we have over here, Shelley, and you can actually use any kind of lettuce for cooking. Traditionally, most folks are familiar with iceberg lettuce. But it actually doesn't have the nutritional punch of a lot of the darker colored lettuces.

Shelley:
The darker the better.

Rafe:
Absolutely, that's true with every vegetable or fruit. So, here we have our traditional romaine. And next to this is our red leaf lettuce. I'm sure most of your viewers would be familiar with that.

Shelley:
Softer, and a little bit more buttery. Then, this one, look at this!

Rafe:
This is a brand new hybrid. This is a red romaine lettuce. It's gorgeous. It has sort of the best of both worlds. It has the crispness and the crunchiness of the standard romaine. At the same time, you see it has this beautiful red color that gives you some really nice nutrition.

Shelley:
So, it's healthy. It looks like it's just taking a few minutes, too.

Rafe:
This dish, we wanted to put in our romaine first.

Shelley:
Because it's crunchier.

Rafe:
Exactly.

Shelley:
This is the red leaf lettuce?

Rafe:
Right, and it's a little softer. Go ahead and put that in. Stir it up just for a moment.

Shelley:
Really, this is not going to take a while.

Rafe:
This is a very quick dish, which when you plan out a dinner party, you want to make sure this is the last thing you do. If you have one of those dinner parties where you're kept busy getting everything else ready, then this makes a great dish to bring in at the last minute. Here, and we don't really cook this all the way down, just till it starts to wilt. Then, we take our brown sauce.

Shelley:
What's in the brown sauce?

Rafe:
This is a dark roux. And you can put in as much or as little of this as you desire.

Shelley:
We will have the recipe for the brown sauce and everything on the Web site.

Rafe:
This is a little bit of our brown sauce. That's an adequate amount right there.

Shelley:
It smells wonderful.

Rafe:
We want to finish up with a little bit of salt. Always some freshly ground black pepper.

Shelley:
What a different way to serve lettuce.

Rafe:
Give it a final stir, and you can smell it.

Shelley:
I'm ready to take this and go home! And that's done, that's it?

Rafe:
That's it. Take it out to your table and your guests will be amazed.

Shelley:
With that smell, I just may stay here with it, too. And then the last one, this is so intriguing. Tell me about it.

Rafe:
Here we have a traditional dish that you'll see in a lot of Wisconsin restaurants-- bacon, cheddar cheese soup.

Shelley:
Works for me. This is my recipe, so it's going to be better than what you'll typically see. But we have our cheddar cheese soup. This is ready to go. It's hot. But what we do differently, we go ahead and have some-- Could you hold that, please? We have some julienne of lettuce, and we have some cubed, diced, seeded tomatoes.

Shelley:
I didn't know that this is what a seeded tomato should look like. I always thought you took all of the inside out, so I've learned something here.

Rafe:
Actually, all you want to remove is the seeds and the wet part.

Shelley:
Not the rest of that in the middle? Okay, lesson learned.

Rafe:
So, we put our lettuce in there. We put in our cubed tomato. Then, because these are cold and raw, you go ahead and put your hot soup on top of this. It heats up.

Shelley:
And you've got bacon, lettuce and tomato soup.

Rafe:
And because we put these in at the last minute you still have all the wonderful crunch of lettuce and tomato, yet it will acquire some heat from the hot soup.

Shelley:
Wonderful, Rafe. Thank you so much. Remember, all of the recipes will be on our Web site.

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