If you’ve seen it in recipes or at the store, you might wonder: what is butter lettuce?
Basically, it’s a Mediterranean lettuce with soft, buttery leaves. Easy, huh?
If you want something different for your salads and wraps, you should definitely consider butter lettuce over iceberg or romaine.
It adds an unexpected twist of flavor and texture, and it’s just a nice change from the usual greens.
Still unsure? Keep reading!
In this article, I’ll tell you all about what it is, discuss the different varieties, its health benefits, and how to prepare, store, and use it.
What is Butter Lettuce?
Butter lettuce is a type of lettuce from the Mediterranean. Also known as butterhead lettuce, it features round heads of loose, tender, soft, vibrantly green leaves. The plant takes its name from its soft, buttery texture and smooth, delicate flavor.
Some varieties are more reddish-purple or a combination of purple and green. And it’s available in most stores as a head with the roots attached.
Keeping the roots in place prevents the delicate leaves from wilting.
What Does Butter Lettuce Taste Like?
As I mentioned, butter lettuce gets its name from its smooth texture, not its taste. (i.e., it doesn’t taste like butter.)
Butter lettuce has a mild, almost sweet flavor – though it’s not sugary or fruity sweet. Instead, it’s a sweeter type of lettuce with slight floral notes that pairs exceptionally well with summer salads with fruits and nuts. It’s also great with aged and ripened cheeses.
Varieties of Butter Lettuce
There are two varieties of butter lettuce: Bibb and Boston.
Some people add Limestone lettuce to the count, but that’s just another name for Bibb lettuce.
Both varieties share the same silky smooth texture, but they look slightly different:
- Boston lettuce is more flower-like. Though green, the lettuce head is shaped like a flower in full bloom.
- Bibb lettuce has a more subdued appearance. It’s smaller, for one thing, and the shape of the head is also different. As a result, it looks less like a flower and more like a small cup.
Of the two, Bibb lettuce is more widely sold in the U.S.
Once you try butter lettuce and feel how soft and smooth it is, that’s all you’ll need to become hooked.
You’ll be looking for it in every produce section you visit from then on!
But if you aren’t sold on it yet, let’s examine a few health benefits it can provide.
- First, like all lettuce, butter lettuce is a no-fat, low-calorie food. You can eat a ton of it without worrying about it ruining your diet.
- It also contains no cholesterol or sodium and has very few carbs per serving. That makes it a good choice for heart-healthy and keto diets, too.
- Additionally, butter lettuce is about 95% water! That helps keep you hydrated and keeps you full longer. The high water content also aids in weight loss endeavors and digestion.
- Finally, it’s a good source of fiber, vitamins A and K, and folate. It also contains all of the following:
- Vitamin C
- Various antioxidants
It can even help the body absorb iron better and improve eyesight!
I wouldn’t call it the new miracle veggie or anything, but it’s definitely on the right side of healthy.
How to Prepare and Store Butter Lettuce
The primary consideration when storing butter lettuce is whether its roots are attached. If they are, storage is much simpler.
All you’ll do is place the entire (still intact) lettuce head in a plastic bag. (If it came in a plastic bag, leave it in that.)
As long as the roots are moist, the leaves should remain fresh.
Simply place the lettuce head in the fridge, and it should last 1 to 2 weeks.
Storage is slightly different if the roots are gone or you’ve already cut the lettuce.
Start by washing the leaves. Then, dry them and wrap them in paper towels.
Place the paper towel-wrapped leaves in a plastic bag and seal it. Then, pop the bag in the fridge for no longer than 5 to 7 days.
Be sure to place the lettuce near the front and in the middle of the fridge. This should keep it from wilting too quickly.
How to Cut Butter Lettuce:
Now, let’s talk about how to cut butter lettuce when you’re ready to use it.
Start by washing the lettuce if you haven’t already. Then, follow these steps to prepare it:
- Set the lettuce leaves on a cutting board or other flat surface with the stem facing you.
- Hold the knife at an angle and insert it into the lettuce near the stem.
- Make the initial cut, then turn the lettuce around to cut a complete circle around the stem.
- Remove and discard the stem.
- Pull the leaves from the lettuce head.
- Place the leaves in small stacks and cut them into strips.
Then, use the lettuce however you want!
How to Use Butter Lettuce in Recipes
There are several ways to use butter lettuce in recipes.
Salads are the most obvious, of course. But that’s not all this little wonder is god for.
Here are a few great ways to use butter lettuce:
- In sandwiches or wraps
- As a wrap for a low-carb substitute
- In burgers, tacos, and egg rolls
- As lettuce cups
In short, you can use butter lettuce in any recipe that calls for lettuce.
It also makes a good cabbage substitute in most recipes – especially those that use raw cabbage.
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