Prized by gourmet chefs for its sweet, subtle taste, is one of the five lettuce varieties: butterhead, crisphead, leaf, cos or romaine, and celtuce; Butter Lettuce has a delicate sweet flavour with a buttery texture, and is known as Boston Lettuce.
Butter lettuce, as its name suggests, is so tender that it melts in the mouth like butter, particularly the heart, when the lettuce is picked at dawn. It forms a loose head of large, soft leaves resembling an open rose. The name “Boston,” though typically North American, may be found anywhere. The flavour of butter lettuce is very subtle: it lends itself to countless creative pairings.
HOW TO CHOOSE
Available year-round. Good-quality butter lettuce will have fairly large, loose heads with thick leaves and even green coloring. Scratch the stalk and smell. A sweet or bitter smell means sweet or bitter flavour.
Avoid: Buy fresh. Avoid product with thin, wilted leaves and brown spots near the stalk end. Extremely solid, light-coloured heads mean all core and less taste.
Butter lettuce is very fragile and its leaves wilt quickly. Store, unwashed, in a perforated bag in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator – that is, in the coolest part of the refrigerator, which is generally located in the rear and lowest shelf section of the refrigerator.
Wash at the last minute; otherwise the leaves will “fall” quickly. The leaves are soft and tender, so they require a gentle touch during washing and preparation. Carefully remove the core, immerse the loose leaves in cold water, drain them, and pat dry with paper towels.
The following are some simple, tasty ways to enjoy butter lettuce:
Mix with other lettuces and greens like watercress, or a red leaf lettuce for a gourmet salad.
Make an oil-orange juice dressing; add a few roasted pine nuts and some diced cold chicken to jazz up your salad.
Toss the lettuce leaves with halved cherry tomatoes and grated carrots.
Fill individual leaves with tuna salad or hummus. Now that’s a delicious alternative for those of us that need to limit are carbs!
To Puree: When lettuce is looking tired, transform it: Boil in water for a few minutes with a handful of coarse salt; drain and purée in the blender. Strainer, pressing to extract as much juice as possible. Add to a cream sauce with lemon juice, shallots, butter, and pepper to create a gourmet accompaniment for grilled trout.
To Sauté: Sauté some small bacon pieces and onions in a skillet with a little butter. Add the lettuce leaves, cover, and cook gently for about 10 minutes. A true gardener’s delight!
Butter lettuce is sophisticated and likes sweet mellow pairings such as cream, fruity oils, honey and fruit.
Rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, vitamins A, B, C and K. All of the dark choices contain carotenes, to help ward off age-related diseases; calcium, to keep your bones strong; and iron, to keep your energy up.
Approx. 1 cup (per 50 g)
Water: 47.79 g
Carbohydrates: 1.16 g
Fat: 0.11 g
Protein: 0.645 g
Fibre: 0.5 g
Modern lettuce had its start as a Mediterranean weed. It is believed that by 55 B.C., lettuce was served to Persian kings and in high esteem for its medicinal values.
In more recent history, the people of London, England believed that Boston lettuce was the only lettuce. A traditional British salad involved a bit of Boston lettuce, a slice of tomato, and a dollop of salad cream.