All About Lettuce

All About Lettuce

All About Lettuce

Did you know that you can cook lettuce?

I can here the screeches of denial from here, and as someone who was once treated to grilled lettuce on a pizza (thank you, Amy,  for your youthful school cookery experimentation) I can understand why you might think that way.  Afterall it is drummed into us all that lettuce is for salad and a versatile salad veg at that: with mild flavoured varieties that can be the support act for just about anything to other types which have sufficient flavour to star centre stage (Black Seeded Simpson I am thinking of you).

So hold on as I haven’t gone mad, or if I have I stand in the company of certain celebrity chefs.  And this isn’t a new fad… a grilled lettuce recipe was written in the early 1600’s.

All you need is the right types of lettuce – avoid the looseleaf and butterhead types as their soft leaves will just gloop down to mush, Icebergs are more water than leaf but look towards the other crispy types.  Cos in particular but also the firm leaves of Romaine and Batavian types work well.  The other golden rule is to keep the actual cooking time to a minimum.

So if you just cannot face another salad, especially on less than sunny summer days, you might think about trying some of these ideas…

Lettuce soup!  Using lettuces in their prime (indeed never use the gone to seed dregs of your lettuce crop, it just isn’t worth it).  Flavour the soup with parsley, mint or lovage or team up with rocket or watercress or peas. 

Peas feature in many lettuce recipes: Why Not try this great recipe:

Slowly heat a knob of butter and a slug of olive oil in a pan. Add the 1 heaped tsp flour and stir around, then slowly pour in 285ml chicken or veg stock. Turn up the heat and add 6 finely sliced spring onions, 400g peas and 2 sliced cos lettuce with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Put the lid on and simmer for 5 minutes or until tender. Taste, adjust any seasoning and squeeze in a little lemon juice. Serve drizzled with a splash of oil. Jamie’s recipe suggests serving with fish and I would serve without the extra drizzle of oil, but that’s me.

You can also fill leaves with a stuffing to make parcels for braising as you would with cabbage leaves.  Another trick is to add chopped leaves into the final stage of cooking paella or risotto allowing just enough time for them to wilt and release their juice into the rice.  In much the same way you can add them to stir-fry dishes towards the end.  How about rinsing and then just wilt them in the water clinging to the leaves before serving with oyster or soy sauce, garlic or chilli. 

If your recipe books don’t have anything to suggest then google (other search engines are available) and be brave and try some exciting experimentation of your own.

Or just experiment with growing and enjoying some of our 37 varieties in salads, it is, after all, what lettuces are famous for!