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Stir Fry India Lettuce (vegetarian)

Recipe submitted by Campfire Dan

I grew India Lettuce for about a year before I figured this one out. India Lettuce (Lactuca indica) is a powerhouse full of antioxidants including lots of quercetin which is a high-priced health food store supplement. So I had some reason to find out a good way to prepare it. I never much liked it is salads so it always just grew there waiting for me to come up with a way to eat it. Then one day I wanted to do a little stir-fry but didn’t have a real main ingredient growing in the garden and old India Lettuce just stared me in the face and said “Take me, take me.” So, here is what came about.

Some good oil (I use olive oil)
Wild onions (or elephant garlic or any onion-like thing)
Any crispy vegetable thing in the garden or fridge, such as celery, peppers, etc. (optional)
A stalk or two of India Lettuce
Soy sauce
Artificial Ham Bits (you can probably use bacon bits)
Toasted and salted sunflower seeds
Cooked rice

Harvest the entire stalk of the India Lettuce down to a couple of inches from the ground (it will grow back side stalks later). The hollow lettuce stalk will be fibrous gradually turning to crispy. Remove all the leaves below the crispy part of the stalk and put them aside. Dispose of the fibrous part of the stalk and set aside the cripsy part with its leaves still on. Add the onions and any crispy veggies to the hot oil. Let cook for a very short while then start chopping the crispy part of the lettuce stalk crosswise with its leaves still on. Stir into the onions and other veggies in the skillet. Chop up the previously set-aside lettuce leaves and add. When the leafy part of the leaves are all wilted add the soy sauce (to taste). Cook a tad longer then add the artificial ham bits and toasted sunflower seeds. As soon as possible serve over cooked rice with additional soy sauce and oil.

This recipe is infinitely adaptable. I love making it with the imitation ham bits which I get from a web store called USA Emergency Supply. But you have to buy in bulk there so a substitute would be in order for most people. I am pretty sure bacon bits would work as well or any other smokey topping. I have also used toppings such as an Indian deep fried chickpea snack called “Boondi” to replace the toasted sunflower seeds and I suspect any crispy protein snack would be as effective. The recipe also works very well with Chinese Red Lettuce which has a solid seed stalk rather than the hollow stalk of India lettuce and somewhat less leaf mass.

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