The Dupont circle Farmer's Market in Washington DC is my local market and last weekend it was bustling and booming. It is wonderful how abundant the local offerings are now and how delicious the foods of the season are from asparagus, snow peas and snap peas to strawberries and rhubarb it was a mouth-watering adventure to behold.
Standing out in the crowd of taste treats is a favorite of mine - living butterhead lettuce. It looks picture perfect with its soft leaves of green and its texture is soft and smooth. The local farm that sells a variety of hydroponically-grown greens is called "Endless Summer Harvest." I had a lovely conversation with the Managing Partner Mary Ellen Taylor who grows the lettuce. The farm is located in Purcellville, Virginia which is about 1 and ½ hour drive from Washington.
Mary Ellen is a very proud spokesperson for their 7 acre hydroponic farm and the living plants that they grow on the farm that are sustaining themselves on their roots. At the farm they grow 25 varieties of lettuces. She says they are "beyond organics" in their healthfulness. Mary Ellen shared the benefits of growing plants hydroponically. She said that
- They are healthier plants because they receive a nearly perfect diet and rarely come in contact with soil-borne pests.
- There is no use of herbicides, fungicides and pesticides so that they are healthier to eat.
- They have higher yields because hydroponic systems reduce water and "nutrient stress" to plants. They conserve water by preventing evaporation and runoff.
If you are looking for a versatile green to start your salad then butterhead lettuce is it. I find its subtle flavors are a great complement to grilled fish like salmon or grilled chicken. I like being creative and mixing in all kinds of different veggies that I find at the market like asparagus, snap peas, cucumbers, red pepper, broccoli and tomatoes. Then I mix the salad up with a classic vinaigrette and I like adding a bit of mustard to it. This dinner is quick and cool and on the table in just a few minutes.
Here are a couple of other outstanding recipes we enjoyed at Ellen's Healthy Table. Both of these used butterhead lettuce as a centerpiece for a memorable meal:
Published On: July 03, 2008