Lettuce Recipes

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Lettuce recipes usually tend to focus in one small area, because for most people, lettuce=salad. If you think if it as just another green, however, you realize it has many more possibilities. Here are a few less common lettuce recipes:

  • Chop and add to soup for the last five minutes of cooking time.
  • Grill it. This is a good way to use lettuce that is fully mature and just starting to get bitter.
  • Sir fry, alone or with other veggies.
  • Add to smoothies.
  • Use it as a container for something else. Depending on the variety, it can become a bowl, scoop or wrap.
  • Braise it – alone, with other greens (add the lettuce last) or vegetables like peas, onions and celery.
  • Saute with thin-sliced sweet onions and bacon.
  • Make lettuce pesto; use sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. You can also use it half-and-half when you make basil pesto, which I do, partly because it’s a good way to use up slightly over-mature lettuce and partly because the licorice flavor of straight basil is too strong for me.

Lettuce Cups

Bibb and Boston types are best for these sorts of lettuce recipes. You can use pretty much any kind of filling in these lettuce cups. Here’s one example.

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium carrots, julienned
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut into thin slices
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce, optional
  • 8 Bibb lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 English cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup each coarsely chopped fresh basil, cilantro and mint
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup salted peanuts, chopped
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Lime wedges

Mix vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl until blended. Stir in carrots and onion; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Cook pork, ginger and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat 6-8 minutes or until pork is no longer pink, breaking up pork into crumbles; drain. Stir in soy sauce, mirin, salt, pepper and, if desired, fish sauce. To serve, drain carrot mixture. Place pork mixture in lettuce leaves; top with cucumber, red pepper, green onions, carrot mixture and herbs. Sprinkle with jalapeno and peanuts; drizzle with hoisin sauce. Squeeze lime juice over tops. Fold lettuce over filling.

Strawberry and Onion Salad

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 bunch romaine, torn (about 8 cups)
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups halved fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Place sugar in a small heavy skillet; cook and stir over medium-low heat until melted and caramel-colored, about 10 minutes. Stir in almonds until coated. Spread on foil to cool. Place romaine, onion and strawberries in a large bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients; toss with salad. Break candied almonds into pieces; sprinkle over salad. Serve immediately.

Turkey Lettuce Cups

  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup chopped peeled jicama or celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh gingerroot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup julienned carrot
  • 6 Bibb lettuce leaves
  • Hot mustard, optional

In a large skillet, cook and crumble turkey with jicama and onion over medium heat until no longer pink, 4-6 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, ginger, garlic and peppers. Add carrot; cook and stir until liquid is absorbed, 1-2 minutes. Serve in lettuce. If desired, serve with mustard.

Grilled Romaine

  • 2 romaine hearts, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Dash salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

Brush romaine halves with oil. Grill romaine, uncovered, over medium-high heat 6-8 minutes or until leaves begin to wilt and color, turning once. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk buttermilk, yogurt, chives, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper until blended; drizzle over cut sides of romaine. Top with cheese and bacon.

Stir-Fried Lettuce

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ground white pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 slice ginger (⅛-inch thick, smashed with the side of a knife)
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped)

Hit lettuce firmly on the counter to remove the core. Remove the outer layer of the lettuce and any discolored leaves and discard. Tear the lettuce into large 4 to 5-inch pieces. Place the lettuce in a large bowl of very cold water and give it a good stir. Drain the lettuce in a colander. Shake well or use a salad spinner to remove the excess water. Whisk soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, salt, sugar, white pepper into a small bowl and set aside. Heat your wok over low heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil and the fresh ginger slice. Infuse the oil for 15 seconds, being careful not to burn the ginger. Turn the heat up to the highest setting, and stir in the chopped garlic. Then immediately add the iceberg lettuce. Stir-fry everything together, using a scooping motion to coat the lettuce uniformly with the oil. After about 20 seconds, gather the lettuce in the middle of the wok in a pile, so you can see the liquid pooling around it in the wok. Let cook uncovered for another 15 seconds, and while this is happening, pour the soy sauce mixture over the lettuce. Rapidly stir and spread lettuce on wok edges to sear the leaves. After the searing has stopped, repeat the process of gathering the lettuce in the middle of the wok and letting the sides of the wok heat up again. The iceberg lettuce should be tender, with the green parts wilted. Stir fried lettuce should be slightly crunchy, so be sure not to overcook it.

Roasted Lettuce and Onions

  • Harvest a large bowlful of lettuce or mixed greens
  • Peel and chop 3 medium onions
  • Olive oil

Wash leaves. Dry well. Tear or chop, place in large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add onions, toss to coat with oil. Place in lightly oiled baking dish. Mash down. (It will shrink as it cooks.) Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover. Return to oven and bake 15 to 25 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste if desired.

Shrimp and Avocado Salad

  • 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 5 cups hearts of romaine salad mix
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook the shrimp, garlic, chili powder, salt and cumin in oil a large skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink; set aside. Combine the romaine, corn, peas and red pepper in a large bowl; divide among four serving plates. Top each with shrimp and avocado. Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle over salads.

Nectarine and Arugula Salad

  • 4 cups fresh arugula or baby spinach
  • 4 cups torn Bibb or Boston lettuce
  • 3 medium nectarines,sliced
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper in a measuring cup. Gradually whisk in oil until blended. Drizzle over salad; toss to coat.

Pear & Pomegranate Salad Recipe

  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • Dash salt3 medium Bosc pears
  • 1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce (about 6 ounces), torn
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 3/4 cup crumbled Boursin garlic and fines herbs cheese (half of a 5.2-ounce package) or garlic and herb feta cheese

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a blender. Cut one pear lengthwise in half; peel, core and coarsely chop one half. Add chopped pear to blender; cover and process until blended. Cut remaining pears and pear half lengthwise into 1/4-in. Slices. Arrange lettuce on 4 plates. Top with pears, pomegranate seeds and pecans; sprinkle with cheese. Drizzle with dressing; serve immediately.

Orange and Avocado Salad

  • 3 navel oranges, segmented
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce, torn in large (2-3 inches) pieces
  • 3 or 4 chopped green onions, white and green parts
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted & thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper

Combine orange juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside. Lightly toss segmented oranges, red leaf lettuce and avocado in a large bowl. Pour vinegar dressing over all.

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