Cos is also known as Romaine Lettuce and is a member of the Daisy family. They grow as long, slender heads around a central core.
A view inside illustrates this core - the structure is reminiscent of a cabbage. As the lettuce ages, the core becomes more woody but at this stage, the core is still quite juicy and crisp. Nutrionally, Cos Lettuce is high in Vitamin A and Lutein - Lutein is an antioxidant that may help to protect against degenerative eye conditions.
Since I have this lovely baby lettuce I'll be making a dish that uses all of it. I recently saw a recipe in the Melbourne Magazine from Andrew McConnell which involved using the quartered hearts of iceberg lettuces - they were accompanied by a tangy mix of cornichons, caperberries and anchovies and dressed with a simple vinaigrette.
Cornichons, are those tiny pickled gherkins and Caperberries are the fruit of the Caper bush - milder in flavour than capers, Caperberries are pickled on the stem and eaten whole.
Baby Cos Lettuce Salad
1 baby cos lettuce, halved, washed & drained
cornichons, finely diced
shallot, finely diced
lemon infused olive oil
white wine vinegar
Make the vinaigrette:
My general rule of thumb is to use 1 part vinegar to 3 parts olive oil - though this does vary depending on the acidity of the vinegar and flavour of the oil. I will not add salt to this dressing due to the presence of the cornichons, caperberries and anchovies.
Assemble the salad:
Place the lettuce halves on a plate, sprinkle over with finely diced shallots and cornichons. Scatter a few caperberries and anchovy slivers around the plate.
Drizzle over generously with the dressing. If desired, finish off with fine shavings of Parmigiano or Grana.
If you don't like anchovies, use crisp lardons of pancetta.