Cos you're worth it


By: Judy Davie

In this week's MarketFresh we learn that some new purple-leafed baby Cos lettuce are around which is pretty exciting as my ears always prick up with the mention of purple produce because it always contains anthocyanins; chemical compounds found in plant food with antioxidant properties.

For many years, and particularly since food and nutrition has become a national obsession, cos lettuce has had a rather bad reputation. And while it's true that compared to the dark leafy salad greens like rocket and spinach cos lettuce does have fewer nutrients, I think, if it gets people to eat some greens then so what. It's not as if Cos lettuce contain NO nutrients, or worse still, is bad for you. It's quite the opposite in fact. Cos, otherwise known as Romaine lettuce is nutritious and makes a fabulous canvas for some interesting and delicious healthy meals.

What's in cos lettuce?

Cos is a good source of minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium, and vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. I won't pretend the nutrients found in Cos lettuce can't be found in greater quantities in other foods but so what? Cos lettuce contains negligible kilojoules and it's robust leaves and pleasant crunchy stalks make for a good eating experience.
Look beyond the classic Caesar salad
I must admit I am fond of a Caesar salad with smoked salmon instead of bacon and crunchy baked sourdough cubes instead of deep fried croutons, but there are many more things to make from Cos lettuce when we use our imagination. I was particularly excited to find a fab looking recipe on line from minimalistbaker.com where he or she grilled cos lettuce. The picture showed some cool-looking char-grill lines and I think that sounds like a great starting base for a dish that is warm, comforting and very on trend right now.

And so in this week's article I have reinstated the Cos Lettuce, called it by its posher name Romaine, and come up with a vegan friendly dish which everyone can enjoy.

Smokey romaine with sesame and crunchy chickpeas
Serves 4
400 g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed thoroughly
1 tbs olive oil
Pinch salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
For the tahini sauce
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbs lemon juice
cup hulled tahini
tsp salt
Punch cumin
120 ml cold water
2 tbs parsley, chopped finely
Cracked black pepper
2 heads Romaine lettuce, sliced lengthways in half
1 tbs olive oil
Preheat the oven to 190C

Spread the chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven to dry out for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
Meanwhile, to make the tahini sauce, combine the garlic and lemon juice and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes. Strain the lemon juice through a fine sieve and discard the garlic. Add the tahini, salt and cumin and whisk together to blend.
Slowly add the water a little at a time. The sauce will seize up midway but push through and don't panic. Stop when it forms a smooth silky free flowing sauce.
Fold through the parley and season with black pepper.
Remove the chickpeas from the oven and while they are still hot transfer to a bowl and toss the olive oil, salt and paprika to coat evenly.
Increase the oven to 200 C. Return the chickpeas to the tray and place in the oven for a further 20 minutes until crispy.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Heat a grill pan to hot
Rinse the Romaine halves to remove any dirt and pat dry with paper towel.
Lightly drizzle the cut sides with oil and season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Place romaine on the grill pan and grill for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until there are visible grill marks. Turn carefully
Transfer the grilled Romaine to a serving platter, drizzle with tahini sauce and top with crunchy chickpeas.
Delish !

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