In the England of the seventeenth century only the king could eat the lettuce, a vegetable with a delicate taste, rich in water and crisp and even very rare at that time across the Channel. Today it's a quintessential ingredient in salads and accompanies discreetly various dishes as a garnish or decoration, as well as appear as the first component in the preparation of some soups, for which is recommended for its light weight and slightly calming effect. Only a few people don't appreciate - there are those who consider it indigestible because of its high water content, but it is appreciated by others because of its ability to promote digestion - and in some rare cases it can cause allergies.
Origins and history
It's not clear where exactly it comes from, except the so-called "Roman" probably actually born in Italy. Perhaps even arrived from Siberia or perhaps from India, it was already beloved by the ancient Romans - enthusiastic consumers - but we know that it was already well known to the Persians, and its cultivation and dates back to 2500 BC. The intensive creation of new varieties, however, dates back only to the seventeenth century, with the invention of a forced technique by which even now production can take place throughout the year. In addition to the intensive cultivation or in a garden, you can also help grow two or three heads in a tank rather wide set on a balcony or a terrace, for a tasty mini-home consumption.
Nutritional properties and benefits
Composed of water to 95%, it's very refreshing and has modest values of elements sedative. It contains good amounts of folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B and C, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium and iron among other minerals.
It can help calming a cough, she has mild analgesic capacity and is recommended for those suffering from diabetes because it helps regulate the amount of sugar in the blood. Furthermore, the lettuce is quite satiating and is therefore also ideal in a slimming diet, both because it contains only 15 calories per 100 grams, and because an abundant consumption before real meals can do so that the water ingested with the leaves ports to a discrete feeling of satiety.
The use of lettuce in cooking
Simply seasoned with oil, salt and lemon can get a superb side dish. But we must be careful not to break it into small parts - would be even better, leave them whole - and not manipulated too leaves, crispy as rich in water but which so easily spoil if they are cut. For the same reason, it is better not to buy bushes whose leaves begin to wither, because they have already lost at least part of their water content and texture under the teeth will be rather unpleasant.
Eaten raw lettuce is at its best and accompanies perfectly all types of dishes, which is made with eggs, or meat and fish of any kind.
Even while matching wine or other drinks, there are hardly unpleasant flavor contrasts. The common smooth lettuce is perhaps the variety par excellence and one of the richest in taste, while the curly has an interesting texture and taste a little bitter. The tufts are mostly rounded - but the Roman is elongated - and the well cleaned leaves of the preferred variety may be employed as "bed" (also for decorative color and shape) on which to place the freshly grilled fish fillets to be consumed immediately, or to use as edible containers for various sauces in which to dip other foods. The lettuce can also be used as an ingredient for ravioli to cook steamed, along with other vegetables, feta into small pieces, chervil and parsley. Or you can try to replace it in part with basil in pesto with almonds and adding _ chopped pistachios. For a delicate soup, you can make dry gently to the fire with a little water along with the shallots, then finish cooking in broth and blend the mixture finally perfumes the with a little nutmeg.
Despite everything, the lettuce - "Lactuca sativa" - is consumed for centuries, the genus Lactuca was only described by Linnaeus in the eighteenth century. It belongs to the same - however great - the chrysanthemum family, and since ancient times it was believed that its use would help to control sexual arousal, its use was therefore recommended to the eunuchs.