THE SPANISH SO LOVE THEIR COGOLLOS, OR BABY LETTUCE, THAT THEY LOBBIED FOR THEIR OWN DENOMINACIÓN DE ORIGEN. A LETTUCE WITH A D.O. MUST BE SPECIAL — AND INDEED THE COGOLLOS DE TUDELA ARE REMARKABLY SMALL AND COMPACT, WITH A SHARP, MILKY FLAVOUR. ALTHOUGH THE LETTUCE’ COMES FROM NAVARRA, THIS RECIPE COMES FROM A MATE IN CÓRDOBA. IN THIS DISH A WARM VINAIGRETTE, INFUSED WITH GARLIC AND ANCHOVIES, IS DRIZZLED OVER THE OPEN HEART OF THE LETTUCE, MAKING ITS WAY THROUGH EVERY FOLD. LETTUCES LIKE THESE ARE HARD TO COME BY OUTSIDE SPAIN, SO FIND THE SMALLEST, TIGHTEST COS (ROMAINE) LETTUCE YOU CAN GET YOUR HANDS ON AND PEEL AWAY THE OUTER LEAVES TO REVEAL THE DELICATE HEART WITHIN.
Wash the lettuces and peel off the outer leaves to reveal the hearts. Slice the lettuce hearts lengthways into quarters, discard the stalks, then pat dry and place on a serving platter.
Using a fork, crush two of the anchovy fillets until well mashed. Cut the remaining anchovy fillets in half lengthways.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mashed anchovies and cook for 1–2 minutes, or until they have ‘melted’ into the oil. Add the garlic and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until light golden but not brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar.
Pour the oil mixture over the lettuce hearts. Top each lettuce quarter with a slice of anchovy and serve immediately.
© 2009 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.