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How to make wilted lettuce

I inherited my love of gardening from my mother and grandmother. I am a garden blogger, freelance writer, and Master Gardener emeritus.

Best salad ever

Salad dressing is made using bacon drippings instead of olive oil.

Salad dressing is made using bacon drippings instead of olive oil.

Old time favorite

Basic wilted lettuce

Country folk and avid gardeners love wilted lettuce. If that doesn't appeal to you, call it "mixed spring greens with warm bacon dressing." Served as an entrée, top with chopped hard cooked eggs.

I substitute homemade mixed herb vinegar for the traditional cider vinegar. If the vinegar is just too strong for you, dilute it with water. Or, try a white wine vinegar, or lemon juice.

Sometimes referred to a smothered lettuce or kilt lettuce (killed lettuce.)

This is important: Triple wash fresh-picked greens. Then, dry the lettuce before filling the salad bowl with torn lettuce pieces. Nothing ruins a salad quicker than biting down on gritty sand or soil.

After a long winter with meals devoid of fresh produce and greens, families were thrilled when the first green shoots popped up in spring. Those nutrient dense greens, once provided a much needed vitamin and mineral boost missing from the winter diet.

Even before spring lettuces were sown in the home garden, many wild greens were gathered. Today, what we believe are weeds, dandelion greens and poke for example, are a storehouse of nutrients.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

10 min

20 min

Makes 6 servings in polite company

Mixed greens are best

Include young kale in the lettuce mix for wilted lettuce.

Include young kale in the lettuce mix for wilted lettuce.

Ingredients

  • 10 cups leaf lettuce, spinach, baby kale, torn in bite size pieces
  • 6 radishes, any color, thinly sliced
  • 4 whole green onions, sliced
  • 6 bacon strips, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar, or herb vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Springtime's best choices

Thinning onions for early spring green onions also means plenty of room for the remaining onions to  grow large bulbs.

Thinning onions for early spring green onions also means plenty of room for the remaining onions to grow large bulbs.

Wilted lettuce recipe

  1. Toss lettuce, onions and radish in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels. Cut bacon into pieces. Set bacon pieces aside.
  3. Pour bacon drippings from pan and return 2 Tablespoons to skillet.
  4. Dissolve sugar into water, if using sugar. To remaining hot drippings, add the vinegar, water, salt, pepper. Cover salad bowl for 1 minute using a large plate.
  5. Toss salad lightly. Sprinkle bacon pieces over the wilted lettuce. Serve immediately.
  6. Makes two servings for me and garandpa. Makes 6 servings in polite company.

Grow your own

  • Wild Garden Frills Russian Kale is especially tender, mild and delicious organic Siberian heirloom kale mix with blue-green frilled leaves. Nutritious, long-standing, weather tolerant and beautiful.
  • Garden Ferns Leaf Lettuce are heavy rosettes of delectable elongated leaves with a sweet flavor and juicy texture make this heirloom looseleaf lettuce an Italian favorite.
  • Flashy Trout Back Leaf Lettuce is an organic heirloom lavishly splashed with wine-red against a bright green background.
  • Crimson Crunch Radish are big red globes of fast growing crispy and mild flavor. These radishes don't get pithy and hot like so many radishes do.

Get the above lettuces and radishes from Renee's Garden and

Get the following Okame spinach and Confetti radishes from Nichols Garden Nursery.

  • Okame Spinach, picked early as baby leaf for salads. Thin plants then harvest outer leaves of remaining plants to extend season until hot weather causes it to bolt.
  • Confetti Mix Radish are perfect in wilted lettuce or tea sandwiches. The color is always a surprise when plucked from the garden. Plant these fast growing radishes as row markers.

There is always room for lettuce

A raised bed made of concrete blocks adds extra garden space for lettuce and onions.

A raised bed made of concrete blocks adds extra garden space for lettuce and onions.

Your exclusive recipe

Make it your own with these suggestions

suggestions:

  • Mix 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard into vinegar and water.
  • Replace lettuce with torn spinach and baby kale leaves as part or all of the lettuce.
  • Top with feta or blue cheese crumbles.
  • Add a Tablespoon of sunflower seeds just before serving.
  • Switch sweet, thinnly sliced Vidalia onions instead of green onions.

More Wilted Lettuce

Make wilted lettuce your way or try this Hub:

Cooking from Scratch for Busy Moms: Wilted Lettuce

Kilt (Killed) Lettuce-A Recipe From My Kentucky Childhood


Comments

Patsy Bell Hobson (author) from zone 6a, Southeast Missouri, USA on September 24, 2014:

SusanDeppner I add radishes because I love them. They were not included in my grandmothers recipe. Thank you for reading my hubs. I hope when you make it, the wilted lettuce will taste as good as you remember.

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on September 24, 2014:

My mother used to make wilted lettuce and I loved it. Your recipe, I'm sure, is almost identical (she didn't add radishes). I haven't made it in years but will have to do so soon. Thanks for sharing!

Patsy Bell Hobson (author) from zone 6a, Southeast Missouri, USA on June 19, 2014:

teaches12345 Thank you for sharing that story. This works well with mixed lettuces or spinach. I appreciate you.

Dianna Mendez on June 19, 2014:

I first heard of wilted lettuce when I moved to Virginia years ago. I didn't think I would like it, but I was wrong. You have reminded me of how much I miss it. I will have to make it very very soon. THanks for the recipe.

Patsy Bell Hobson (author) from zone 6a, Southeast Missouri, USA on June 16, 2014:

Then you must write a hub and tell us what lettuces you grow that can take summer heat. Thank you for reading my hubs. I appreciate you.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on June 16, 2014:

I think I'll be eating a lot of this this summer. Voting up and pinning.

Patsy Bell Hobson (author) from zone 6a, Southeast Missouri, USA on June 07, 2014:

Thank you. I am honored that you read my hub. Please ask if you have any garden questions. I love to help and share garden information.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 06, 2014:

Great idea for a salad your ideas are very useful

Patsy Bell Hobson (author) from zone 6a, Southeast Missouri, USA on June 05, 2014:

Jackie Lynnley, daughter of the South. You can never make a dish that tastes as good as good as it is your memory. But, I hope this is close. I love it and can never have it too often in the spring. Thanks for reading my hubs. I appreciate your sharing.

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on June 05, 2014:

I am a salad lover of all kinds but only leery of the bacon strips or dressings. I prefer a vegan salad and dressing. This otherwise, was a great hub. Thank you Patsybell :-)

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on June 05, 2014:

I have had the bacon grease on lettuce and it is so fantastic. Been many years though; my dad use to make it a few times after the lettuce came on. Another of your hubs to tuck back! and share!

I have been working on the vinegars. The dill looks so beautiful; will I have to take it out of the bottle eventually?

Patsy Bell Hobson (author) from zone 6a, Southeast Missouri, USA on June 04, 2014:

MsDora, it makes my day that you read my hubs. Thank you. It is rewarding to be able to share with friends and neighbors. I wish we were close enough to have a coffee and a chat.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 04, 2014:

I could just imagine how satisfying (to more than the appetite) this salad would be with ingredients from one's own garden. Thank you for the recipe and the motivation. Voted Up!

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