Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wonderful Lettuce as a Wonderful Side Dish

I have eaten lettuce as a side dish for lunch for 6 days straight now since I read about this in the newspaper last week.  I regretfully cannot quote the writer or article, because most of the article was about the French vinaigrette she fell in love with and took years to re-create at home.  But she did mention that she puts excellent olive oil, flake salt, and fresh ground pepper on butter lettuce and it's so good it doesn't need vinegar.  

This is a game changer!  No tedious salad prep! No emulsifying a vinaigrette! I adore green salads, but I consider them kind of a production.  I wash and dry the lettuce, chop and shred some veggies, sometimes toast some nuts, make a dressing or vinaigrette if there's not one sitting in the fridge, and hope for leftovers so I can have some for lunch the next day.  

But!  If you simply pull some lettuce leaves into a bowl, drizzle with your best olive oil, sprinkle with some flake salt and fresh pepper, stir, and oh-my-goodness-EAT IT, it is wonderful and fast and I can have it whenever I want!

I am extremely fortunate to have local farmers who grow gorgeous, organic lettuce year-round in their greenhouses or hydroponically; their lettuce is clean enough to skip the washing and drying steps, hallelujah. 
My favorite serving dish, from Grandma Weaver.
When I steam broccoli or something like that, I sprinkle it with salt and pepper and give it a slick of butter or olive oil when it's done.  So that's what's going on with the lettuce here - that's why I call it "side dish lettuce" instead of a salad.  

You could add vinegar or lemon juice if that's what you do with your steamed broccoli (and then you could go on to add other veggies. . . and you've got salad). I am just thrilled for the simplicity that allows me to assemble side dish lettuce in the 33 seconds it takes to microwave the toddler some lunch. 

You may also be interested to see this study by the Center for Disease Control that ranks vegetables and fruits according to their nutrient density; leaf lettuce outranks kale, collards, cabbage and others as a nutrient-dense powerhouse vegetable.  Hooray for lettuce!


Jennifer Jo said...

Do you do 33 seconds because it's easier to press the same button twice then it is to hit the 3 and then the 0? Because that's what I do.

Also, THAT DISH. I love it!

And lucky you---that lettuce is gorgeous.

e said...

In my family we call it 'Honeymoon salad' = lettuce alone! :-)

Also: love the dish! So pretty!

Margo said...

Jennifer, YES to the efficiency of pushing the same button twice (I always pretend I'm an efficiency expert, as in the dad in Cheaper by the Dozen!!).

e, I'm going to rename this dish this instant :) :)

Lisa said...

This is very good - I'll remember it next time I shop! A couple of years ago I did see a "recipe" calling for cutting a wedge out of your iceberg lettuce and serving it with some creamy (blue cheese, maybe?) dressing. (Very good if you're in a hurry.) I did it a couple of times and forgot about it, till now. Even humble iceberg lettuce can be a nice side dish.

Anonymous said...

We have a simple salad every night. Sometimes bibb, more often Spring mix or arugula. I do add some good balsamic, as I just love it. A chef told me once to salt and pepper the lettuce before the olive oil, and it really does make a difference!

Kim from Philadelphia

Polly said...

Yes, yum! I have a salad for lunch every single day. Well, not Christmas Day.

But pretty much every other day......

That lettuce looks so luscious.

Becky said...

Butter lettuce with olive oil, salt & pepper is my jam. We eat that so much that when I put effort into a salad, I get compliments. (I also got a salad cookbook one year for Mother's day as a nudge towards serving lettuce with more than just olive oil....)

Anonymous said...

I'd love to try this. Olive oil is confusing to me. Aren't there ones that you can cook with that are different than the ones you use on salads? What kind and brand do you recommend for this salad?

Margo said...

Anon, yes, there's the ordinary extra-virgin olive oil that I use for cooking, and then there's the excellent "first cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil." There shouldn't be any other oils mixed in with the excellent stuff, and ideally, the olive oil is from a single orchard (not sourced from several countries). I'm not loyal to a brand. California has very good olive oil. Hope that helps!

Sarah Barry said...

Um. Game changer.
I can't wait to try.

I agree, a salad is a production, and I will often skip it if I'm feeling lazy.