Lettuce – pumpkinseed pesto AND lettuce, hazelnut & white bean bisque

Or, two ways to prepare lettuce that don’t involve the word “salad.”

Lettuce, white bean, hazelnut soup

We’re watching Blues Brothers with the boys. It’s rated R, but we can’t remember why, so we’re watching it cautiously, with the remote nearby. Is it the non-stop swearing and the incredibly destructive car chases? Pshaw, my boys are used to that! We drive recklessly through a couple of malls a day around here. Actually, it might be a little rough for them, but I think they’re well aware that they can’t say all of the words that they’re hearing and that they can’t drive cars through store windows. What a pleasure to watch them watch the dancing and the singing, and all of the wonderful, contagiously happy music. It’s such a joyful movie! And I’d forgotten how sweet it is, in parts, and how good it looks. There are a few moments that have such a lovely, quiet grace about them, in the midst of all the raucousness. And, oddly, these moments seem to involve toast. In one scene, Elwood has just toasted a piece of bread in his small room in the home for itinerant men. His brother fell asleep, and he covered him with a blanket, and then sat in the window and looked out at the trains rumbling by in a watery blue light. Beautiful! Now, I love toast. I think it’s such a comforting, restorative food. The very smell of bread toasting can make you feel better. And I happen to have made a meal last night that revolved around toast! And lettuces, lots and lots of lettuces. We got about 7 heads of red leaf lettuce from the CSA, and I’m actually very excited about it. I love salad, as I’ve said many a time, but I also like the challenge of turning lettuce into a non-salad meal. We happened to eat two in the same meal last night, but they were both very tasty, so nobody seemed to mind.

Lettuce pesto

I made a soup with lettuce, hazelnuts and white beans. I seasoned it with tarragon, chervil, and lovage, and it was very flavorful. It was smooth, but not velvety, although you could certainly make it that way if you liked. I floated a small, plain toast in it, and it was delicious. The other non-salad lettuce item on the agenda was a lettuce, pumpkinseed, goatcheese pesto. It turned out very nice! Much milder in flavor than a traditional basil pesto, but it has the lovely, indefinable flavor of toasted pumpkinseeds, and a bit of creamy tang provided by goat cheese. We ate it with toast (again!) and a little bruschetta topping made from tomatoes, basil, french feta, and capers.

Here’s Shake A Tail Feather, with the Blues Brothers and Ray Charles. Doesn’t it make you happy?

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Pumpkin seed and arugula bisque

Pumpkin seed arugula soup

There’s something wrong with my refrigerator. It freezes the vegetables in my vegetable drawers. I’ve tried adjusting humidity and tampering with the temperature, but to no avail! But it turns out to be another one of those happy accidents, because my malfunctioning veg drawers started a short but winding path that resulted in this soup! I accidentally left a container of baby arugula and a head of red leaf lettuce at the bottom of one of the drawers. They didn’t stand a chance! As I looked at my clump of translucent, wilty greens (strangely pretty, as it happens) I immediately thought of soup meagre. It’s one of our favorite soups here at The Ordinary, and perfect for any damaged green thing you might have in your vegetable drawer.

Earlier in the week, whilst browsing in the bulk food section of the grocery store, as one does, these beautiful shiny green seeds caught my magpie eye. I had to have some! I’ve tried roasting pumpkin seeds every halloween, with the coating on, and they always turn out a little too tough to eat. Here was the tender core! Oh boy. Pepita. So pretty! I vaguely remembered that pepita are used in a certain kind of mole, so I hopped it back to the produce section and bought myself a jalapeno pepper.

Flash forward to the soup meagre. My one rule about soup meagre (and a very flexible rule it is, too!) is that everything that goes in there should be green. Well, guess what! Pepita are green! Jalapenos are green…can you see where this is going?

This turned out to be one of the better soups I’ve ever made. (And I’ve made a lot of soup!) The taste of pumpkin seeds is hard to describe. Nutty, savory, pleasant in every way! And they’re very good for you too, apparently! Full of iron, which is a big concern of vegetarian moms everywhere!

Here’s Pepita by Calexico.
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