The World Keeps On Turning, But Step Back and Enjoy a Great Springtime Dish–Wilted Lettuce

Freshly made wilted lettuce, ready to be placed in the salad bowls

With the time change adding an extra hour of sunlight after I get home on work days and all the tending to yard and garden on the weekend, posting on here hasn’t been something that I’ve had much time for recently.

There have been topics, on which I might have commented:  the tragedy of the tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in Japan, the Middle East protests and struggles, the Republican-majority legislatures in a number of states trying to take away workers’ rights and block gay rights even more, and also the sad death of  Elizabeth Taylor, whom I respected and thought of as my favorite actor, (but I did comment here in a previous post).  However, there’s a therapeutic effect that comes from working in the dirt and cutting tree limbs and grass that has seemed to assuage the necessity to voice much of my opinion on these topics.

With spring leaf lettuce abundant in the garden, I cut enough for a salad every day.  Usually, I add store-bought cucumber, tomotoes, or peppers to the daily pickings to the freshly washed green leaves, but when I have a bit more time, I like to make wilted lettuce.

We often had wilted lettuce in the spring and early summer when I was growing up on the farm.  I learned to make it “Mom’s way”, which still is quite tasty, but always the one to experiment in the kitchen, I’ve changed it, I’d never say improved it.

Wilted Lettuce

  • 1/2 slice bacon cut into 3/8 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon finely slivered or diced onion
  • 1/4 cup red or white wine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • leaf lettuce or fresh spinach, about a good handful or two for each person (you’ll have a better idea about the amount of lettuce needed after you’ve made this one time)

(Mom’s version uses just the lettuce, bacon, water, sugar and vinegar)

Heat a medium-sized non-still skillet, and add the bacon and onion, frying until not the pieces are cooked, but not quite crispy.  Add the wine and stir to de-glaze the skillet.  When the liquid it almost cooked away, stir in the sugar.  Add the water and let cook until the liquid is once again almost cooked away.  Then add the vinegar, and turn off the heat.

At this point, there are two choices of ways to dress the lettuce.  One way is to already have the lettuce leaves placed in a bowl (on the farm making wilted lettuce in the wooden bowl was obligatory), and then pour the hot dressing over the lettuce and toss quickly to wilt the leaves.  If the lettuce doesn’t wilt enough, strain off the liquid and reheat in the skillet and add to the lettuce a second time.

If you are making this salad for just one or two people and are not using so much lettuce, you can do the wilting right in the skillet.  Just add the greens into the hot dressing and toss right in the skillet.  I like this method the best because the lettuce gets very wilted.  Use tongs to put the lettuce into salad bowls and pour the remaining dressing over the top.

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