Buried in the crisper drawer of my refrigerator are packets and baggies of seeds – mostly opened and half used. Most are labeled with their contents, but one bag has a generic label “Mixed Lettuces.” The handwriting is decidedly of my friend Brett. And the seeds surely came from his farm.
Every spring when I plant lettuce, I use these seeds as well as a stash of mizuna, tat soi and arugula that I purchased from FedCo several years ago (I bought a 4 oz. bag which has managed to last me several years and the seeds don’t seem to suffer from the long-term refrigerator storage). The mixed lettuces never seem to yield anything of substance for me. But this year, when all the arugula, mizuna and tat soi bolted from the heat, the tender green leaves of the “mixed lettuce” just perked right up with no signs of withering. Even after 2 weeks of scorching (for New England) heat, the leaves are tender, not too bitter, and make a lovely salad. I wish I knew what variety they are – because I will plant them again with the idea of having a mid-summer salad.
I still have a few more beets to harvest and the first cucumber came in this morning. For lunch, I made a “garden” salad; a fry cry from the generic mixed greens with cherry tomatoes, carrot shreds and red onion rings that too often tries to pass itself off as such.
These greens are still quite tender and need to be dressed gingerly. The beets requested red wine vinegar and goat cheese. I first tossed the lettuce in olive oil to coat and protect them before adding the vinegar which tends to wilt things quickly. I then add the salt and pepper. The sweetness of the beets, the crunch of the cucumber and the softness of the greens provide the perfect explosion of flavor – no additional seasoning is necessary. (I did have some leftover chopped pistachios which seemed to pair beautifully... I couldn't resist)