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This butter lettuce salad is tangy, slightly sweet, salty, and oh so good. Its delicate leaves are melt-in-your-mouth tender with pops of crunch from the toppings and then tossed with a lemon honey vinaigrette.
They apparently couldn't make up their minds when trying to decide what to call this lettuce. I'm guessing it went a little something like this:
"We’ll call it Boston lettuce. No, we're nowhere near Boston, let's call it bibb lettuce. Bibb lettuce? No, that doesn't sound quite right... it should be called butter lettuce.
Oh, what the hell, let’s call it all three names and confuse everyone!"
- Butter lettuce (or Bibb or Boston) - the leaves are soft yet crisp in the middle and taste mildly sweet.
- Radishes - thinly slicing them add a nice crunch without tasting too bitter.
- Capers - adds some briny/saltiness.
- Panko breadcrumbs - add a nice crunch for some textural contrast.
- Fresh basil - a simple way to add a lot of flavor.
- Extra virgin olive oil - the best oil for vinaigrettes.
- Fresh lemon juice and zest - tanginess and brightness.
- Raw honey - to balance the tartness.
- Dijon mustard - to emulsify and add tang.
- Salt & pepper - to taste.
How to Make Butter Lettuce Salad
Add the dressing ingredients to a small bowl, whisk until combined, and set aside. Gently pull the leaves off the outer layers so the root sticks out a little bit.
Then, gently twist the root off each head of lettuce and discard. (It should come out pretty easily.)
Add the leaves to the bowl of a salad spinner, lightly rinse with cold water and then spin until dry. Repeat the process with the second head of lettuce. Alternatively, you can do this in a colander and then gently pat dry with a clean tea towel.
Give the leaves a rough chop and add to a large bowl. Thinly slice the radishes with a mandoline slicer or a sharp knife (easiest with a mandoline), roughly chop the basil, and add these to the bowl with the capers and breadcrumbs.
Substitutions & Variations
Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.
How can you make this butter lettuce salad using what you already have? Here are some ideas…
- No radishes? - jicama, carrot, or cucumber (English or Persian are best) would also work well.
- No capers? - use any pitted olives and cut in quarters for a similar briny taste. Or you could also use quick-pickled vegetables.
- No panko breadcrumbs? - pulse crackers of choice in a food processor until they resemble breadcrumbs.
- No fresh basil? - use another fresh herb such as parsley, chives, dill, or tarragon.
- Make it gluten-free - be sure to use gluten-free panko or do the pulsed cracker option instead.
Only add the dressing right before eating. Because butter lettuce leaves are so delicate, this salad has the ability to get soggy if it's left on for too long. If you know you'll have leftovers, only dress individual servings.
More Salad Recipes
- Healthy Broccoli Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
- Southwest Quinoa Salad
- Roasted Beet Salad with Crispy Prosciutto
Butter Lettuce Salad with Lemon Honey Vinaigrette
- 2 heads butter lettuce (bibb or Boston)
- handful fresh basil, roughly chopped or torn
- 4 small radishes, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoon capers
Honey Lemon Vinaigrette
- 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- zest and juice of 1 small lemon see notes
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- ½ tablespoon dijon mustard
- salt & pepper, to taste
- Gently pull the leaves off the outer layers so the root sticks out a little bit. Then, gently twist the root off each head of lettuce and discard. (It'll come out pretty easily.)
- Add the leaves to the bowl of your salad spinner, lightly rinse with cold water and then spin until dry. Repeat the process with the second head of lettuce. Alternatively, you can do this in a colander and then gently pat dry with a clean tea towel.
- Once all the leaves are washed and dried, give them a rough chop and add to a large bowl. Thinly slice the radishes with a mandoline slicer or a sharp knife (easiest with a mandoline), roughly chop the basil, and add these to the bowl with the capers and breadcrumbs.
- Add all the dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss throughout the salad just before serving.
Evie Ugrin says
Best Butter Lettuce Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette yet!
Perfect for anytime for a refreshing compliment to anything.
I added crushed roasted almonds because they were handy.
Thanks for the recipe
Sandy Davidson says
I prepared the butter lettuce salad for a dinner party we attended. It was a great hit and everyone ooh’d and ah’d at the flavors. The only thing I did different was add a can of hearts of palm...they complemented the spicy radishes for sure. The honey lemon vinaigrette was just delicious. Such a lovely dressing. Thank you Lindsey...it is a wonderful recipe.
Yum, that sounds delicious! Thanks Sandy, so glad to hear you enjoyed it!