Raise your hand if you've never cooked lettuce.
Now raise your hand if you've never thought about cooking lettuce.
Now raise your hand if it seems a little grody-potody to cook lettuce.
Whatever. Put your hands down; I get enough of that non-adventurous pickiness at home.
Apparently, from my latest issue of Everyday Food (which started coming to me free in the mail btw; we'll see how long it keeps coming), cooking lettuce is something people do. Not only that, but it's, like, cool and stuff. I, being rather decidedly on a certain unflattering end of the cool-o-meter, had never cooked or thought about cooking lettuce in my life. In fact, when I made this recipe, I did so only because I had a couple of heads that were getting a little wilty around the edges and I figured I had nothing to lose by throwing them into a pot with some salmon. Nothing to lose indeed. Because the meal took a mere 20 minutes from start to finish, was super nutritious, and it tasted pretty darn good too.
But why, I can hear you asking. Why cook lettuce instead of doing up a nice salad on the side? Because...
1. Your lettuce is getting a little wilty--not rotten, but wilty. Perfect for a pot.
2. You have too much lettuce and can't bear the thought of one more salad. I get this way sometimes. I go on a salad kick and keep buying tons of lettuce and then one day my kick ends and I have a couple heads in my refrigerator that I don't even want to look at.
3. Cooking does destroy the enzymes, but to offset that, I notice that I tend to eat more of a green when it's wilted than when it's crisp. (Perhaps simple mouth mechanics are to thank--slurp versus chew chew chew.)
4. Sometimes I've got lettuce on hand and nary another salad fixing to speak of. What do you do? Have lettuce salads. Well, I've done that before, but cooking lettuce is a nice (and more satisfying) alternative.
5. Good-bye salad dressing; you're not needed here. In this dish at least, the flavor from the broth, coupled with a little salt and pepper was all the lettuce needed to be perfectly tasty.
6. Your lettuce is bitter. This is a problem I come up against especially as a home gardener. If my lettuce stars don't align I wind up with bitter lettuce. Cooking removes that bitterness.
One final note on cooking lettuce. I am far from being crazy experienced here, but I used 2 different types--a loose leaf red lettuce (no, I don't know what it's called; why would I know that?) and a Bibb type head. The Bibb was much better. It maintained a little crunch in the stemmiest parts, which made for a good mouth feel. And, for whatever reason, it came out sweet and perfect with the lemony broth. The other was fine, but not nearly so impressive. So go for something with a little more structure.
Here you can see the two types I used in the pot.
(P.S. I realized a couple minutes later I was supposed to chop them and took them out and did that--so don't throw your lettuce in like this. The head-like one won't ever cook fully.)
Braised Salmon with Lettuce
adapted from Everyday Food
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes (tops)
Cost: $5.85 (or $1.40/serving)
salmon: 4.40, lettuce: 1.00, lemon: .40, other stuff: .05
1 Tbsp butter
1 shallot (I didn't have so used a dash of onion powder. I think a small leak or green onion would be good too)
2 tsp grated lemon zest (that of one small lemon and if you skip this, you'll be sad)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 C low-sodium chicken broth (water with some type of seasonings might do the trick too)
4 skinless salmon fillets (about 6 oz. each)
salt and pepper
2 heads loose-ish leaved lettuce, chopped
chopped dill (for garnish and yumminess; I forgot it and missed it about halfway through the meal)
In large pot, melt butter. Add shallots (or onion-y substitution) and stir occasionally until tender.
Add lemon zest and juice. Add broth. Bring to a simmer.
Add salmon. Cover and cook 3 minutes.
Add chopped lettuce. Cover and cook until lettuce is wilted and salmon is cooked, about 6-9 minutes.
Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve topped with dill.
We had this with a side of rice and I found it light and satisfying both.