Tip of the Iceberg Lettuce

“I think iceberg lettuce is so underrated!” is the statement Australian cook and presenter Dani Venn came out with.  At the time it made me chuckle and initially think how I could shoehorn the same sentence into a conversation.  So far I haven’t been able to, but I’m going to the pub later so you never know!  In the meantime I’ve written this short blog because it definitely got me thinking.

Dani Venn

Iceberg for a while now has been the lettuce left in the corner and I can understand why when you eat a leaf on its own.  Low in flavour and nutritional value, on face value I can see why people want to flirt with the likes of raddicio’s bitterness or rocket’s peppery flavours.

Iceberg was popular in the 1980’s, at the time it suited our unadventureous palates.  However, now more people are exploring different countries and eating in the many different types of different international restaurants that have opened up, our taste buds have developed too.  This is a good thing, but would account for why UK sales of iceberg dropped 35% last year, while the likes of rocket and watercress rose by 37%.

In the USA iceberg is the still the most popular lettuce where it is known as “Crisphead”.  It was breed with a much higher water content to stop it spoiling when being transported and also to make it fridge friendly.  That was ok if all you want an all-year round vegetable… but it does also explain the reason behind the lack of flavour!

With everything going against it, iceberg is not a bad product if you know what you are dealing with and only a bit of culinary effort is required to make some very enjoyable dishes.  The crisp and vessel like shape of its individual leaves is the key, making it the perfect vehicle to carry other flavours.  Fillings such as a simple creamy blue cheese such as Dorset Blue Vinney topped with crumbled bacon, or shredded chicken with aioli and cracked black pepper, or even crushed roast tomatoes with anchovies all make the humble iceberg lettuce leave a tasty delight and I encourage you to create some of your own.

However, credit where credit is due, as it was Dani Venn who inspired me to write this blog, it is only fair that I refer you to her very healthy and nutritional website http://thewholeheartedcook.com/

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