I had never heard of celtuce before visiting Zaid and Haifa’s stand in the Greenmarket on Monday, but I will say it was a revelation, for me a wonderful new vegetable (and new vegetables must be encouraged). It was terrific. The flavor might be described as a slightly nutty take on celery and bok choy. I don’t really need any analogies myself; I do know that from now on I will be looking for every opportunity to enjoy it again.
After talking to Zaid about the stalks he had arrayed on a table, I went home with three of them, which turned out to be the exact number I needed for the treatment I ultimately settled upon, a dressing for a good artisanal short pasta. After only a bit of research on line, in order to learn something more about what I had brought home, I decided I could risk going forward. The recipe I used was entirely my own.
It was delicious, possibly the most delicious mix of greenery and pasta I had ever put together, and I think I’m something of a veteran in that kind of campaign. The colors and the textures were a bonus.
Note: I don’t know of any reason why olive oil couldn’t be used to brown the celtuce ‘coins’, making this dish entirely vegetarian, and I don’t even know why I didn’t use it myself yesterday.
- the top greens of three stems of celtuce from Norwich Meadows Farm, wilted in a pot along with a little olive oil in which one clove of sliced organic garlic from Trader Joe’s had been sweated, the greens then reserved while the stems themselves were prepared by being shaved from a vegetable peeler, cut into beautiful green ‘coins’ (they’ll look a bit like sliced kiwi fruit) and parboiled for about 7 or 8 minutes, after which they were drained, sautéed in a large enameled pot in a little butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, tossed with a generous handful of pine nuts which had previously been pan-roasted in a cast iron pan on the top of the range, the boiled pasta (Afeltra Ziti Corti Rigati 100% Grano Italiano) introduced into the pot at this point and stirred with the greens – and their delicious liquor – which had been reserved earlier, along with a little chopped lovage from Keith’s Farm, served in shallow bowls with more chopped lovage and a fresh drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was an Italian white, La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna 2013
- the music was that of Gerald Busby, our neighbor across the road in the Chelsea Hotel
The image above is of the display of celtuce at the Norwich Meadows Farm stand on Monday.