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Cooking Lettuce

I received a decent sized bag of green leaf lettuce (probably black Seed Simpson) from my friend the gardener. He said he often sautes it in butter and serves with a bit of lemon juice and salt.

I have never heard of cooking lettuce. I haven't tried the above yet, but intend to. What other fun can I have coking with lettuce?

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  1. Sometimes with butter lettuce I'll chop it up and use it in an omelet.

    I've also stir-fried romaine lettuce with julienned oyster mushrooms and conpoy.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Romaine seems to be the favorite for cooking, maybe because it has a nice mix of soft leaf and stems that retain some crunch after cooking.

      The French peas and lettuce is my favorite way. Some bacon and bacon fat is a good alternative to butter.

      1. re: paulj

        There is very little that bacon fat doesn't improve. You get me a nice cast iron pan coated with bacon fat and you could saute styrofoam in it and I would probably be very tempted to eat it with glee.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          LOL - I'll have to remember that. Thanks for the laugh!

      2. A traditional French way to cook fresh peas - put leveral layers of lettuce leaves in a saucepan. Add peas and cover with more lettuce. Cook slowly over low heat.

        I will often shred the lettuce and mix it with the peas, adding mint and butter for the same slow braise (using no other liquid than the water on the lettuce leaves).

        5 Replies
        1. re: Sherri

          Sounds great. Any fat--preliminary butter in the pan, whatever?

          1. re: Masonville

            Some butter could never hurt! I'm sure that I put some in and apologize for not mentioning it.

            1. re: Sherri

              Or, as ipsedixit said above, how about bacon fat? ;-)

              1. re: boyzoma

                and a squeeze of lemon doesn't hurt either

          2. re: Sherri

            My method of cooking lettuce with peas is to use about 2 cups of shredded lettuce for about a pound of shelled peas. Start by melting 1 or 2 T of unsalted butter in a skillet over a moderately high flame. Add the white parts of a few thinly sliced scallions and cook till tender. Stir in the lettuce, usually green, and stir-fry for about a minute or so. Add the peas and about 1/4 cup chicken stock. Simmer uncovered till most of the liquid has evaporated. At the end stir in the green parts of the scallions which have been thinly sliced, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. We love lettuce cooked with peas.

          3. Lots of people cut romaine in half longitudinally, brush it with oil, hit it with some salt, and throw it on the grill for a few minutes.

            1. It is great in soups as well. I always add some when i am making Veg stock.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chefj

                I often throw it in soup in place of cabbage, due to what's on hand.

              2. I have to admit, I read your post title and came in because I didn't think you could seriously be asking this. There is almost nothing I despise more than hot lettuce. I suppose it could work for some varieties, but... *shudder*

                I'm interested to see others' takes on this.

                4 Replies
                1. re: irishnyc

                  To each his own but cooked lettuce is deliciose

                    1. re: chefj

                      Obviously it can be, which is why I'm interested. Every time I've ever even smelled it...

                    2. re: irishnyc

                      I'm with you irishnyc - I can't stand hot or even warm lettuce. I like lettuce in a salad, or on a sandwich if it's nice and cold, but I usually end up picking it off if it's been on a hot sandwich for more than a few minutes, and I can't stand it when Mexican restaurants put lettuce alongside a hot entree and it ends up getting mixed in. I don't have this aversion to any other greens, but lettuce... bleah.
                      But like chefj says, to each his own.

                    3. I use a fairly thick layer of shredded (not too fine) iceberg under beef short ribs when I slow braise them. I think they come out more tender and have a "fresh" flavor when I do this. I also use lettuce leaves under just about any leftovers I want to reheat and keep moist, especially meats and fish. It's like magic. Cover and make sure the lettuce has been washed and lightly shaken, then cover the bottom of the pan with it, set the food on the lettuce, another leaf over the top and heat slow. Sooooo much better than nuking to reheat! As others have said, in soups, braised in butter, and there's a vast variety of lettuces out there to experiment with. Braised Belgian endive is famous! And delicious. The ONLY thing I know of that you cannot do with lettuce is freeze it! But I did have a housekeeper who tried! <sigh> I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, but I did find a new housekeeper.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Caroline1

                        I forgot about that. I use it in my Chinese bamboo steamer when I make little dumplings like shu mei. The lettuce does impart a lovely freshness. As far as freezing it, every now and then a new head will get shoved to the back of the elderly fridge I keep in the garage. I hate it when that happens. Its great for bottles of water and beer, but it gets so cold in the rear anything that gets back there freezes.

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          What afantastic tip for reheating leftovers - thanks so much!

                        2. I have not cooked it, but I know I love wilted lettuce, mostly with Mexican dishes. I serve chopped romaine under and over my enchiladas. I love to stir lettuce into the sauce of camerones ala diabla, and I also love a mexican shrimp salad served hot. The small shrimp are sauteed in white wine with garlic butter. Then you serve it all over shredded lettuce and sliced avocad then the tomatoes and clilantro added last, and I think it's simply delicious.

                          1. Briefly braise in chicken broth and butter. Reduce most of the broth away, add some chopped scallion or chive at the end. Black pepper. No extra salt needed thanks to the broth. Serve as a side dish with seafood or chicken.

                            1. Great ideas! Thanks to one and all!

                              1. I recently made a deconstructed BLT salad that was awesome. Split a head of romaine in quarters, grilled it, served it sliced with roasted grape tomatoes and crumbled bacon with a mustardy vinaigrette and croutons.

                                1 Reply
                                1. When I have too much in the CSA basket, I throw it into soups. Comes out like spinach, but a little more tender.

                                  1. For the record, on last Saturday's Jacques Pepin archive rebroadcast on PBS, he cooked two types of lettuce. Escarole in a pasta dish and sauteed Belgian endive as a side. If you have cable or satelite prgramming, It might be worth looking for in your services "On Demand" programming.

                                    He also did a steamed fish and shellfish dish in bamboo steamer baskets with long branches of fresh kelp that was mouth watering! What are my chances of findling fresh kelp in Dallas, Texas? <sigh> Somehow, I don't think kombu would work quite the same.

                                    1. Cream of Lettuce Soup

                                      3 heads of lettuce
                                      2 oz. butter
                                      salt and pepper to taste
                                      2/3 cup rice
                                      2 ½ pints white stock
                                      1 ¼ pints boiling milk
                                      2-3 tbs cream
                                      1 tsp minced parsley

                                      Trim lettuce, rinse, and finely chop.

                                      Melt butter in sauce pan. Add lettuce and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper, rice and stock. Bring to a quick boil, then simmer gently for 45 minutes. Puree. Add milk, cream and parsley. Stir gently until blended.

                                      Wilted Lettuce with Hot Bacon Dressing

                                      Borrow Ipsedixit's iron pan. Toss away styrofoam.
                                      Fry your favored amount of bacon until crispy. Set aside to drain, then crumble.
                                      Turn heat down under pan with grease in it but keep warm.
                                      In a bowl place 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 1/3 cup cider vinegar, 1 cup water, 2 eggs.
                                      Whisk until well blended.
                                      Bring the heat up a little on the pan.
                                      Whisking constantly, pour mixture from bowl into pan in a steady stream until it emulsifies.
                                      Pour over shredded lettuce, top with crumbled bacon and toss. The heat from the dressing will wilt the lettuce.

                                      1. When I studied Chinese cooking with Ken Hom, he pointed out that the Chinese do not eat raw vegetables. He once blanched Romaine leaves briefly (less than a minute), and dressed it with a brown sauce I can't remember, perhaps something like soy, sesame oil and garlic. It was OK, but I never felt the urge to repeat. And the French petit pois a l'anglais (peas with lettuce) is a classic from Escoffier, I think. I don't recall ever seeing or tasting it, though. And certainly the bacon fat suggestion bears checking out! There is a French recipe for petit pois au lard (no lettuce).

                                        1. I tasted stir-fried Romaine lettuce this afternoon at a book signing and it was delicious - I'll certainly be making this at home.

                                          1. I LOVE cooked lettuce, but it bears mentioning what variety you use greatly affects the outcomes!

                                            For braised lettuces or soup, things like little gem, butter lettuce, Coz, or really any heading heirloom variety - grown at home or from a good farmer will still have much flavor when cooked, as well as some intrinsic texture (tho some are more delicate and prone to breakdown than others, of course).

                                            You can't cook a grocery store watery head lettuce and expect anything tasty, nor even most grocery store romaine raised with chemicals in a big field and shipped and stored cold for weeks.

                                            This is one of those veggies where provenance makes the difference!

                                            1. I really like sauteed lettuce with a little oyster sauce - Chinese-style. Cooked lettuce wilts significantly but it helps to coarsely chop the lettuce into manageable pieces.

                                              1. A lot of cooking has gone on since my first response to this thread on 8/1/10, and two new cooked lettuce recipes have been learned, cooked, and enjoyed. Both are from books by Grace Young. Here are the two versions...

                                                1. Stir-Fried Lettuce with Garlic Chili, Pg. 195, Stir-Frying To the Sky's Edge:
                                                Whole Romaine stir-fried with rice wine, broth, soy sauce, minced garlic & jalapeno, salt, white pepper.

                                                2. Stir-Fried Garlic Lettuce, Pg.139: Breath of a Wok:
                                                Romaine hearts stir-fried with rice wine, soy sauce, salt, sugar, smashed garlic, deizzled with sesame oil.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  I am starting to go lower carb for health reasons and to balance the higher calories I know I will eat over the coming holidays.

                                                  Had homemade pho soup stock in the fridge -- and today for lunch, instead of adding noodles, added the back half of romaine lettuce along with homemade roasted chinese bbq pork to the soup (saving the softer front of the romaine leaves for salad later).

                                                  It tasted wonderful...the romaine just tasted like a vegie with a little crunch and soaked up the flavors of the broth. I was pleasantly pleased and will do again (probably even buying romaine lettuce specifically to add to soups)