I love fresh lettuce and it is so easy to grow in cool weather that I tend to plant a few too many. That was the case in January when I started about 10 lettuce seeds in a tray, then 10 days later I did another 10, and finally in mid-February I put what I thought would be the last set of 12 lettuce in a seed tray. My theory is that lettuce matures quickly and succession planting would give me lettuce for about 6 weeks. After the seeds started indoors were mature the direct seeded, more heat resistant varieties would be growing. What I forgot to add into that equation was that we were soon overwhelmed with lettuce and there are only so many salads and side salads that 2 people can eat in a week. Rather than let the extra lettuce go to waste, I remember seeing a cooking show that used wilted lettuce.
Wilted lettuce is similar to kale in as much as you take a large handful of leaves, put them into a large pan and gently heat with a little oil, butter or unsalted stock. After a few minutes the whole pan reduces to a puddle of wilted leaves. For kale, which has a strong flavor, I usually add some garlic and a little salt to the pan but lettuce has such a delicate flavor that it gets overwhelmed with extra flavoring. A knob of butter mixed in at the end is about as much as you need.
Wilted lettuce, because does not have a strong flavor, works best with light flavored fish such as salmon or trout. Add a side of mixed, sautéed onions, tomatoes and peppers for a colorful addition to the plate.
Recipe For Wilted Lettuce – for 2
2 large handfuls of lettuce leaves – rinsed
¼ cup unsalted stock or water
1 tsp butter
1: Heat the oil or water in a large saucepan;
2: Rip the lettuce into smaller pieces (about 2” long);
3: Add all the lettuce and cover with a lid;
4: After a few minutes, stir and check to see if the lower leaves have wilted;
5: When the lower leaves are wilted stir gently so that the leaves at the top of the pan move to the bottom;
6: When the whole mass of leaves have wilted, add a knob of butter (optional);
7: Serve at the side of the fish or place the lettuce under the fish on the plate.