A wonderfully simple tapa, Cogollos al Ajillo, or “garlicky lettuce hearts”, were something I discovered in Cordoba at a neighborhood restaurant outside the historic center which served fantastic pincho morunos for 60 cents each. We were also served cogollos al ajillo and I made a mental note to make them myself when I got back home in Madrid. These lettuce hearts are so fast, easy, and delicious, I don’t know why I had not discovered them before! This dish makes a great side, tapas party anyone?, and its a big hit with garlic lovers.
Preparation for 3 to 4 people:
3 lettuce hearts
White wine vinegar
4 to 5 cloves garlic
First carefully cut off a thin slice of the sometimes discolored stem, making sure to keep the stem intact so the lettuce layers do not seperate. Next cut the lettuce hearts into quarters or thirds, wash and pat dry. Arrange the pieces on a plate as above. Mince the garlic and heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a fryng pan and when hot add 4 or 5 cloves of minced garlic. Meanwhile, while watching the garlic so it does not burn, drizzle at least a tablespoon of white wine vineger over the lettuce hearts and then sprinkle on a pinch of salt. When the garlic is a golden toasted color, remove from heat and immediately pour over the lettuce hearts, with some of the olive oil that now has a wonderful garlic flavor infused in it. Drizzle on more extra virgin olive oil if needed and it’s ready to serve. I always make this dish last and serve immediately so the lettuce stays crisp. The lettuce can then be picked up by the stem, no utensils necessary. Enjoy!