Farm Food Challenge: Madagascar Red Bitter Lettuce

The Madagascar Red Lettuce ChallengeMadagascar red lettuce

Recently, I was approached by Farmer Damien of Native Roots Organic Farm in Westville, IN with a farm food challenge: creating a recipe using Madagascar Red Bitter Lettuce. He mentioned that most people aren’t sure what to do with bitter lettuces but thought I might be able to come up with something tasty. Challenge accepted! Now, I’ll admit that I’m not extremely verse at cooking with greens, though I felt I could come up with something unique that my family would love. Sauces are an easy way to sneak tiny bits of greens into the diet. Hearty, salty and creamy, I created a recipe for Madagascar Red Ham & Peas Linguine.

Why Cook With Lettuce?

Since red lettuce qualifies as a calorie-free, fat-free food plant, many people might think of it as an “empty” food item. On the contrary, red lettuce provides a little extra dietary fiber (1g per cup.) Also, it is a rich source of vitamin A which helps with vision, healthy skin and immune support. Red leaf lettuce provides vitamin K (for bones and blood) along with micro amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B-6 and iron. ( By adding a good amount of lettuce to any recipe, you can only improve on your nutritional intake.

I might-maybe-possibly have been known to finely mince greens such as kale or spinach and throw them into soups and sauces, so why not try the lettuce in this creamy linguine sauce? Success. Delicious enough that my son ate two bowls. My hope is that you might branch out and start cooking more with affordable, nutritious, local greens. Lettuce isn’t only for salads anymore. Enjoy!

(Thanks to Native Farms for the beautiful bowl of lettuce and the culinary challenge!)

Madagascar red lettuce collage

Madagascar Red Ham & Peas Linguine
A food challenge offered by Native Roots Organic Farm
  • 2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Ham steak, trimmed and diced
  • 2 Bulbs of Spring onions, chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 3 TB Unbleached Flour
  • 3 c. Chicken Broth
  • 1 t. Onion Powder
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Sprig Thyme, stem removed
  • 1 lb. Bag Frozen Peas
  • 3 TB Sour Cream
  • 3 small heads of Madagascar Red Bitter Lettuce, chopped fine
  • Garnish: Parmesan Cheese
  • Sea salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Linguine pasta, prepared per instructions
  1. In a large skillet, fry the ham, onion and garlic in the EVOO until lightly browned.
  2. Add flour and cook for a few minutes to eliminate "raw" flour flavor.
  3. Stir in chicken broth, onion powder, bay leaf, and thyme. Pour in peas and cook until thickened and peas are cooked.
  4. Stir in sour cream and add chopped lettuce (it will wilt quickly). Salt & pepper to taste and serve over linguine pasta. Garnish with Parmesan.
  5. (remove the bay leaf before serving)


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