I grow lettuces for many reasons, but the big one is the yield I get for the square footage. Lettuce falls into the category of “cut and come again.” Meaning, after I harvest a salad, the lettuce will sprout new leaves. By contrast, plants like broccoli yield one head per plant. Better still, I can plant 6 – 12 “heads” of lettuce in the same area that a single head of broccoli would require. To harvest: cut about 1 ½ inches above the root base, leaving the smallest leaves intact. Immediately put the lettuce in water to keep it from wilting irreparably. I usually take a large bowl with some water out to the garden -- as I cut the lettuce, I toss it with the water.
A friend made an interesting commentary about growing lettuce – it’s one of the few crops that can’t be preserved for the colder months. With so much lettuce, I’ve been able to share with my neighbors – for Tommy and Paul, and for the neighbors that snow-blow my driveway in the winter.
Despite the profusion of lettuce, I’m not ready to drown out the flavors with an intense dressing. I simply season with olive oil and lemon juice, and perhaps freshly shaved Parmigiano-reggiano and prosciutto.