The party season is beginning! Halloween parties are in full swing and Thanksgiving will be here before we know it! Party food should be exciting, attractive, and delicious. Here’s an idea for a party platter that is creative, pretty, tasty and healthy too!
Yesterday a huge box arrived from Coastline Family Farms…filled with the most beautiful lettuce I have ever seen! I met the folks at Coastline recently at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Anaheim, Ca. This year Coastline was showcasing their new lettuces. I tried a sample of the Purple Reign Smoothie including Nutraleaf Burgundy leaf lettuce, blackberry juice, strawberry Greek yogurt, and frozen mixed berries…garnished with a piece of lettuce!
These new lettuces were created by plant biology professor Ilya Raskin at Rutgers University through natural plant breeding processes (no GMO) from regular red lettuce. The result is a gorgeous burgundy color, crisp texture without being tough, and a lovely flavor without bitterness. One of the best benefits of this new lettuce is the richness of the nutrients, high in vitamins A and C, the mineral manganese, iron, potassium, and a good source of fiber. These lettuces have only 22 calories per 2 cups, and are high in antioxidants, including plant nutrients called polyphenols. The information I received from Coastline includes this information:
“Lab tests show them to be gram per gram dry weight, twice as high in polyphenols as blueberries and as regular red leaf lettuce.”
During the spring, summer, and fall they are grown in the Salinas Valley of California, but during the winter they are grown in the Imperial Valley. While I was visiting with the folks at Coastline, I met some of the farmers who grow these new red lettuces. It was fun to visit and eventually we figured out that our sons knew each other in college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo! It’s a small world! Their family, like ours, has been farming for generations in California and have a strong commitment to their land, their workers, and the quality of the foods they grow. It is no wonder that Coastline Family Farms is proud of their new burgundy lettuces…so proud that they called them “Nutraleaf” to highlight the increased nutrition and the natural beauty of the lettuce.
My box of lettuce arrived beautifully wrapped, in a cold pack, just as it had been picked from the field. The first thing I wanted to do was take a photograph…the colors in this lettuce are so rich!
Lettuce will keep well if it is rinsed, patted dry, and wrapped in a paper towel or dish towel. Place each head in a plastic bag and store in the crisper of the refrigerator.
The lettuce I received is the Burgundy Romaine Lettuce…and each head is a thing of beauty! The deep burgundy color on the top of the leafs contrasts with the gorgeous green inside. I decided to use those leaves to make a party platter for The Farmer and me…even though it was only lunch time…why not have a party for lunch?
I mashed up some avocados from our own grove, and mixed in some mild store-bought salsa for seasoning. Then I sliced up the remainder of the lettuce (just what was left on the base of the romaine head) and added it to the avocado. I didn’t add any seasoning because the salsa already included tomatoes, Anaheim peppers, onions, cilantro, cider vinegar, jalapeños, lime juice, sea salt, garlic, cumin, and black pepper.
Then I looked in the fridge for colorful veggies, including red and orange bell peppers, cucumbers, and mini radish sticks. I arranged them on top of those gorgeous burgundy lettuce leaves! Finally I placed garlic-stuffed olives around the avocado…it looked like a party! And it was a delicious lunch! The Farmer remarked that the lettuce is really tasty…and ate several pieces without any toppings!
The lettuce leaves are strong enough to wrap around any filling for easy lettuce wraps, or serve on top of each leaf for an elegant touch! I’m already planning to make a party platter for Thanksgiving, with roasted pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries on top of fresh veggies.
Guacamole and Veggie Party Platter
1 head of Nutraleaf Burgundy Romaine Lettuce, base trimmed, rinsed and crisped
1 yellow bell pepper, top and core removed, sliced into strips
1 orange bell pepper, top and core removed, chopped
3 small cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 cup Dandy Radish Mini-sticks
4 medium California avocados, cut and remove seed, peel and mash
1 cup prepared mild salsa
6 large garlic-stuffed green olives
Cut the base off the lettuce head, reserving the leaves for the platter and the base for the guacamole
Place the lettuce leaves on a large round platter
Thinly slice the remaining lettuce from the base of the romaine head and stir into the avocado
Stir the salsa into the avocado and lettuce mixture to make a mild guacamole
Carefully spoon the guacamole into the center of the lettuce leaves
Arranged the peppers, cucumbers, and radish sticks around the guacamole
Drain the olives and place them around the edges of the guacamole
Provide small plates and forks, and serve as lettuce wraps or small salads
We’ll be enjoying this lettuce all week…and I plan on trying some of the ideas that Coastline Family Farms suggests for their new lettuces, such as salads, wraps, smoothies, and snacks.
What ideas do you have for these pretty new lettuces?
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Coastline Family Farms through the KitchenPlay food blogger program and #TeamSummit. I received a box of fresh Burgundy Romaine Lettuce from Coastline Family Farms. All opinions and experiences are my own.