Here’s a great, refreshing summer dish using one of my favorite, little-known vegetables: celtuce. I love celtuce shaved raw and quickly tossed with a little marinade similar to Japanese spinach gomae. The only difference with my dressing from the traditional sesame one, is that I use sunflower seeds, and a special virgin sunflower oil made in Minnesota where I live, it’s called Smude’s, and it’s the best sunflower oil I’ve had. New to this vegetable? Check out my basic tutorial here.
Here’s the jist: take a stalk of celtuce, trim it up and cut into fine ribbons or julienne, then dress with a paste of pounded, toasted sunflower seeds, a touch of sweetness, a dash of acid, and a hint of fresh mint or cilantro, if you want. The herbs are optional, and will take over a bit, so taste it before you add to see if you think it even needs it. The flavor of celtuce is so mild and pleasantly nutty, you might be surprised at how little it needs.
The recipe below is just an example, I added a few dried Monarda Didyma leaves for color.
Celtuce Salad with Sunflower Dressing and Mint
- 8 ounces julienned celtuce see my tutorial for how to do this
- 1/2 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds
- 4 tablespoons Smudes sunflower oil or substitute toasted sesame oil, or another nut oil, like walnut
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or maple sugar or a sweetener of your choice
- 1 tablespoon champagne or apple cider vinegar
- Kosher salt to taste
- A few leaves of finely sliced fresh spearmint
- Toast the sunflower seeds, then pound in a mortar and pestle or food processor, drizzling in the maple, vinegar, and then the oil to make a paste.
- Toss the paste with the celtuce, mix in the mint leaves, double check the seasoning for salt and acid, and serve.