Tag Archives: lettuce

Boston Butter Lettuce Salad with Avocado, Corn, & Tomatoes

One of the things my husband will tell you I ask him is whether he’s had anything green during the day.  He’s fairly patient with this interrogation because he’s intelligent and knows that ultimately, regardless of what he eats, there have to be vegetables in his diet– especially brightly colored vegetables.  But sometimes, green is enough, and often easier because all it takes to incorporate it into a day’s worth of meals is to have a salad.  A big salad.

I know many think salad is a warm weather dish, but to me, it’s one of the easiest ways to make sure vegetables are on the plate.  Fresh vegetables.  Nothing fancy — just a mix of what sounds good, what’s in the fridge, or what’s in season.  And?

The salad needs to take up half the plate.

I grew up eating salads made exclusively with iceberg lettuce.  I’m sure many of us did, and from what we now know, it’s because that’s what was in the market.  Zero choice.  But one of the first types of lettuce I discovered when I was freshly moved out of my mother’s house was Boston Butter Lettuce.  It was beautiful, delicate, and something I’d never seen before.  Although I originally saw it in small heads placed in rows upside down in the produce rack, more and more, the heads I’ve become accustomed to seeing are larger.  Much larger, and sealed safely inside plastic containers to keep them from being bruised.  I felt decadent the first time I bought a head of butter lettuce,  enjoying the tender leaves with all kinds of tasty salad ingredients, and thinking that yes, it tasted a bit on the buttery side.

During our short trip to Laguna Beach this past summer, we had a late lunch on the balcony overlooking the beach at The Beach House.  Although we both agreed the food was wonderful, I especially enjoyed the completely green salad made of a whole head of butter lettuce and all other green ingredients tucked under the leaves. Avocado, green striped tomatoes, green onions — wonderful.

When I saw the “Boston Lettuce Salad with Herbs” in the September issue of Food & Wine, I decided to make a similar version of a delicious Boston Butter Lettuce Salad.

Perfect for dinner, a special occasion, or just lunch all by yourself.

Check off your greens for the day!

Continue reading

Easy Lettuce Wraps

At some point, a little turkey goes a very long way.  Or perhaps it’s the larger portions of food, or the dessert you forgot to send with your guests in little take away containers.

Regardless, we end up needing something light and easy for dinner so that we can recover briefly before the next round of holiday eating begins.  These lettuce wraps are perfect for that.

I think the first time I had lettuce wraps was at P.F. Chang’s.  The idea of a lettuce wrap was so perfect (tasty, crunchy, not filling) that I had to try and come up with my own after I got home.  Since experimenting, I’ve come across other versions and try out their ideas, too.

Each time I make lettuce wraps, the recipe is a bit different because I’m trying something new, or I only have available certain ingredients.  There are a couple of ingredients we have to have each time, however, because to us, that’s what makes the wrap.  Since the lettuce is a no-brainer, celery and water chestnuts are it.
Img_4915

Types of Ingredients

Oil:  1 tsp. peanut oil, or 1/2 tsp. sesame oil and 1/2 tsp. canola

Meat:  I usually use lean pork.  This can be in the form of leftovers, or from a lone chop in the freezer.  This time, I used very lean ground pork that Farmer John puts out.  Chicken is also good — especially if it’s been marinated.

Wrap:  Iceberg lettuce works best because we enjoy the fresh crunch when the first bite is taken.  Butter lettuce works best, however, as the pieces have more flexibility and there’s less breakage and the resulting need to grab a fork to scoop up what’s fallen on your plate.

Veggies:  Chopped celery, carrots, sugar peas, green onions, and bell peppers are excellent.  This time, I added both yellow and red peppers, sugar peas, and celery.

Other:  Water chestnuts are a favorite ingredient because their crunch adds nicely to the mix.

Flavoring:  Garlic! Chopped cilantro adds a nice flavor, but basil is also good.  Or neither works just fine.

Sauce:  Soy Sauce by itself is okay, but I’ve also tried bottled stir fry sauces and splashes of Asian-style marinades.  I usually have hoisin sauce in the cupboard or fridge, so I used it this time and think it tastes best. I’ve never made it before, but there’s an interesting recipe here I’m going to give a go tonight just to see how it compares.

Heat:  Mixing a bit of chili paste into the soy sauce usually heats things up enough to satisfy the palate that needs a kick of spice.  Chopping up 1 T. of jalapeno, habanero, or Thai chili and adding it to the saute pan also works well.

Directions
Img_4913

I don’t have a wok any more, so just use a very large saute pan.  It’s easy to put all the ingredients in it, let them soften and brown, and then stir gradually to incorporate them into the filling.

After the mix has been created, I add about 2 T. of hoisun sauce, stir well, and then add the cilantro.

To get the lettuce ready, cut the end of the lettuce out of the head and carefully pull and entire leaf away from the head from the bottom instead of peeling from the top.  This helps to keep the leaf from snapping.

The wraps work best if they’re not overloaded with filling.  A couple of heaping tablespoons (tableware) work just fine.

Img_4914

It’s a good idea to serve rice or noodles with these, as the men in the house usually look at me and wonder where the rest of the food is.  But I enjoy them because the flavor is outstanding, there’s much to crunch, and they’re healthy!  Plus, the possibilities are endless for the filling.  Experiment with the flavors and ingredients you enjoy best.

Cheers!

Img_4916