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Use for very bitter Romaine?

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  • GilaB Aug 17, 2011 06:47 PM
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Anybody have any suggestions for what to do with the very bitter baby Romaine lettuce I recently got from my CSA? While we happily cook and eat bitter greens (broccoli rabe is a favorite), we don't generally go for it much in salads. We keep kosher, so wilting it with a bacon-y dressing is out.

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  1. Just because we're used to using romaine as a salad green in the USA does not preclude it from cooking. Use it as a substitute for another bitter green, escarole, in Italian prepartions. Braised escarole with white beans is one example, another would be to include the(cooked) bitter romaine in a ravioli filling. A tomato sauce, such as Marcella Hazan's Tomato-Butter Sauce, could help to soften the bitterness. You could also treat it in a Southern US fashion, braising it with smoked turkey legs (instead of bacon).

    1. I blanche and serve warm (not hot)with lemon and olive oil salt and pepper. Add good olives, I buy mixed from an olive bar,capers ,red onion etc .

      1. Blanching sounds good. Also you could wilt it with hot olive oil. I think a few garlic cloves, a few blanched almonds and some hot olive oil with your fave vinegar would be fine to wilt it if you wanted to do that. Add some sliced eggs to it.

        1. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
          Grilled Caesar Salad is yummy! The lettuce caramelizes a bit.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bryn

            Agree!!! ~~~ Grill it!!

          2. As an apartment dweller, I am sadly without a grill, although the grilled Caesar concept sounds really cool. Instead, I seized on the excellent suggestion to treat it like escarole, and made a pasta with romaine, arugula, and white beans that came out very nicely.

            1 Reply
            1. re: GilaB

              Do You have a grill pan? I've successfully grilled romaine for salads on a VERY hot grill pan. Works better with smaller romaine hearts.

            2. Saute it with some bacon fat and leeks.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit

                It never ceases to amaze me that people seem to ignore even pretty brief OPs :)

              2. can't you wilt it with a shmaltz-y dressing?

                But as other say, cook it in some water and see if that alters the taste.

                4 Replies
                1. re: paulj

                  I have yet to see a kosher-keeping cook actually use schmaltz, although perhaps there are still a few who do so, all of whom are probably over eighty.

                  1. re: GilaB

                    Um, hi. 32 here.

                    1. re: tzurriz

                      Hi. Apparently we hadn't yet met. When do you use schmaltz? Where do you buy it? Or do you just render it yourself?

                      1. re: GilaB

                        I actually don't keep kosher anymore (long story regarding the issues in Iowa and our own family's personal decisions, but anyway . . .) I usually render it myself because the kosher markets are so far away. When I do go to the kosher market for Pesach though I buy several small tubs (I believe the are 8 oz). I use it sparingly, but I do use it. :)

                        I fry potatoes in it, use it when I make chopped liver, etc.

                2. Romaine is quite tasty on the grill. Split in half and char a bit. It doesn't need to cook through. Then use a anchovy-garlic dressing, parmesan. It ends up more side dish than salad and very good with simple fish.

                  Otherwise, I would throw it in to a pot of beans in some lazy Italianate soupy stuff.

                  1. Salt diminishes bitterness, so you're best off using it in a well-salted preparation.

                    I like Sherri's suggestions to braise it or treat it like another bitter green in a ravioli filling or something similar. Could also work well in many soups - I'm especially fond of a lot of Portuguese recipes for using bitter greens in soup. Start with caldo verde. Obviously, romaine wouldn't need to cook as long as kale.

                    1. Use it like greens in any soup.

                      1. I've used it, cut in chiffonade shape, as an ingredient in an Asian stir fry. The soy taste covers up the bitterness.

                        1. I like bitter greens braised in chicken stock.

                          1. Use it as a salad, but paired with something very rich, like pork, or something with a cream or butter sauce.

                            It would be awesome with pork belly.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: luciaannek

                              Might I suggest re-reading the OP, paying particular attention to the last line?

                            2. Lettuce Cole Slaw.......

                              1. Romaine Too Bitter for Salads?

                                We enjoy romaine in salads, but often found extremely bitter romaine on hand, with the milky exudate in the cut leaves so bitter it was inedible in salads. No amount of soaking in water or my usual lemon juice and water wash did anything to remedy the extreme bitterness.

                                Then an idea popped into my head. Within my large salad spinner, I bathed and soaked the cut leaves in a 4:1 mix of water and apple cider vinegar for 10 minutes, followed by a soak in 6:1 water and lemon juice for about 8 minutes, followed by a soaking rinse of water for about 8 minutes. (While all that soaking is going on, we prep our other ingredients.) No more bitterness whatsoever. Great salads.

                                I haven't found any help on making bitter romaine sweet and edible anywhere else on the internet. Hope this helps others frustrated by inedibly bitter romaine for salads.

                                1. A bitter lettuce flavor can be offset beautifully with a tasty filling like curry chicken salad or cranberry-turkey salad. Use the leaves in place of bread-nice crunch too!

                                  1. I stir-fry the bitter romaine leaves regularly as a vegetable side dish. I cut them in half lengthwise through the center core, then cut cross-wiise into 1/2" strips. Into a hot skillet saute with a bit of oil (I use grapeseed) some sliced onion for a couple of minutes. Add sliced shiitake or other mushrooms and toss around for another minute or two. Now add chopped garlic, or not. Then add the romaine and toss is around in the pan. After a minute or so, sprinkle with salt. Sometimes I add a dash of Chinese oyster sauce right after I add the greens to the pan. Toss for a couple of minutes until the green color has deepened and that's it. A nice finish, if you like it and after the heat is off, is to add a bit of Asian sesame seed oil and toss again before plating or putting into a serving dish. Quick and tasty!

                                    1. Coming from the opposite direction -- trying to offset the sweetness of a large & elderly sweet potato I wanted to use up -- I made what turned out to be one of my favorite soups ever: (Pareve/Vegan) Sweet Potato Soup with Bitter Greens. I simmered the sweet potato with other vegs & seasonings till very soft, then stirred in the bitter greens for the last few minutes of cooking. Delicious!