Ever wonder what would happen if celery and asparagus came together in some kind of stemmy hybrid horror film? Celtuce would happen.
So what is celtuce, you may ask, as it does rather sound like a made up word. Ask you should and ask I did when a friend of mine told me that her husband had a bumper crop and was keen to donate some to my household.
It turns out that celtuce is an unhearting form of lettuce with flimsy but edible leaves that grow from a fleshy stalk rather than a central bundle like an iceberg lettuce or cabbage. The stalk is where the action is at, and it can be eaten raw or gently cooked- much like celery or asparagus. It is easily grown in one’s garden from April onwards- high fibre, low calorie, reasonable vitamin A and C content too.
I took my celtuce, gave it a damned good rinse to avoid poisoning by slug pellet, and took a little nibble raw.
Crunchy. Fibrous. Texturey. Tastes like…….um…….
Ok so maybe it’s better cooked. Cut up and thrown in a stirfry, roasted with some onions, the finishing touch to a casserole perhaps. Note that these are all suggestions of having celtuce with something else. Because celtuce tends to taste of whatever you cook it with. Celtuce itself tastes of nothing. No sweetness of asparagus, no peppery tang of celery, not even the ghost of an aromatic like fennel or a cabbagy soft heat. Nada. Nothing. Doesn’t even taste like chicken and pretty much everything that doesn’t taste of anything else tastes like chicken as we know. It does however retain a lovely crunch when cooked and add some very low calorie bulk to whatever you wish to throw it into. I’ll bet my kingdom that it is free and encouraged on pretty much any well known weight loss program and could work in a chutney to give texture to stronger flavours like ginger or garlic.
Sadly that’s all I have to say on the subject. Am I going to eat celtuce again? No, not really.