Butter lettuce is one of those often-overlooked ingredients that deserve some spotlight. If you find yourself wondering what to do with it, then have I got the perfect simple green salad recipe for you!
Like my Chopped Asparagus Salad and Avocado Quinoa Salad, it is one of those colorful salads that is bursting with crunchy, sweet vegetables that celebrate the season. Finish it off with sliced almonds and salty Parmesan cheese, and you have a meal-worthy yet light salad recipe that is sure to please.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
Not all salads are created equal. However, I believe, in addition to being visually impressive, this Boston Butter Lettuce Salad is one of the best salad recipes out there because it is:
- The perfect side salad for every occasion.
- Quick, easy, and comes together in less than 20 minutes!
- Packed with vegetables, which (believe it or not) makes it super filling and can be enjoyed all on its own as a meal.
- A butter lettuce lover’s dream, it highlights the creaminess of the lettuce but also provides a bit of everything.
What is Butter Lettuce?
Butter lettuce (also known as Green Bibb or Boston lettuce or Green Butterhead Lettuce) is a variety of green lettuce with a soft and tender texture and mild flavor. Contrary to its name, delicate butter lettuce leaves do not taste buttery but are light, floral, and somewhat sweet. The leaves are silky-smooth and have a unique melt-in-your-mouth characteristic.
The heads are usually sold whole, with the roots attached, to preserve their flavor and nutrition. It will keep unwashed for up to 4 days in the fridge.
The ingredient list for this butter lettuce salad recipe comes together in two parts:
- For the dressing: My go-to butter lettuce salad dressing is lemon vinaigrette, a simple combination of extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, kosher salt (or sea salt), and black pepper.
- For the salad: Gather together asparagus, green peas, salt, Butter lettuce (2 medium-size heads of butter lettuce or 1 large), English cucumber, radishes, sliced almonds, avocado, and shredded Parmesan cheese.
- Replace the lemon juice with orange or lime juice. Or use an equal amount of apple cider vinegar instead.
- Use sauteed asparagus or baked asparagus instead of blanched. Just make sure to cool before assembling.
- If fresh peas are not available, or you just don’t feel like blanching peas, use frozen green peas. Scoop out the amount you need and thaw on the kitchen counter.
How to Prepare Butter Lettuce For A Salad?
Green leaves of butter lettuce can be quite tender and delicate, so I find it best to tear each leaf by hand. To prepare them for this salad:
- Fill a large bowl with cold tap water.
- Take 1 head of butter lettuce and gently tear the leaves one by one and place it in the bowl. Repeat it for the second head of lettuce.
- Gently press to submerge in the water to remove any debris (if any), drain, and transfer to a sheet lined with paper towels to dry them off. If you have a salad spinner, feel free to give them a spin to dry them faster.
How to Make – Step By Step Instructions
All it takes is a quick blanch of spring vegetables and some assembly to get this butterleaf salad recipe together in no time.
- Make the dressing: Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and give it a whisk. Set aside.
- To blanch asparagus: Fill a large pot with water and a tablespoon of salt and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with water and ice and set it aside. Place asparagus (cut in bite-size pieces) in the hot boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus into the bowl with ice water. Do not discard the boiling water.
- To blanch peas: Add the peas into the now-empty pot with the boiling water. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the peas are softened to your liking. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl water and ice (to stop the cooking).
- Drain both vegetables and set them aside.
- To assemble the salad: Place the butter lettuce leaves in a large salad bowl (or in a large platter.) Add in blanched asparagus and peas, cucumber slices, radish slices, sliced almonds, avocado cubes, and parmesan cheese, if using.
- Drizzle with the lemon salad dressing and give it a gentle toss. Serve right away.
What to Serve it With
That being said, I can eat this salad all on its own as a main dish. There is enough water and fiber in the vegetables to really fill me up. Plus, peas and Parmesan provide an ample amount of protein.
A few fun variations include:
- Make it vegan: Omit the cheese for a completely plant-based, vegan meal.
- Any nuts & seeds would work: Switch out the almonds for chopped walnuts, cashews, or pecans instead. Whole sunflower, pine nuts, or pumpkin seeds would make the entire recipe nut-free!
- Not a fan of nuts/seeds? Replace the nuts with toasted Panko breadcrumbs so you won’t lose the crunchy factor.
- Switch it up with different cheeses: Use tangy Pecorino or Manchego cheese instead of the Parmesan, or for more creaminess, use feta cheese or blue cheese.
- Add in more salty goodness: Up the savory-salty-buttery factor with green olives.
- To make it more refreshing: Add in a sprinkle of fresh herbs like basil, mint, parsley, or chives.
How to Make Ahead & Store:
- To Make Ahead: I do not recommend making this salad ahead of time. The good thing is that it comes together pretty quickly. When ready to serve, assemble and toss the salad gently in a large mixing bowl until well mixed. The butter lettuce will start to wilt if left to sit for too long.
- To Store: Feel free to prep and store each component in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to 2 days. Since butter lettuce is so tender, the salad does not store well in the refrigerator if already tossed with the dressing and should be eaten the day of.
- It is best not to wash the tender butter lettuce leaves until you are ready to use them, as over-handling can bruise the leaves.
- Use tongs to gently toss. You want to mix just enough to coat all the ingredients with the dressing without diminishing the integrity of the lettuce.
- Serve immediately. The dressing and weight of the other ingredients will wilt the leaves quite quickly.
Other Similar Recipes You Might Like:
Love this Boston Lettuce Salad recipe? Below are a few other summer salads you might also like. They are all vegetarian recipes that you can try during this time of year when spring/summer produce is at its best.
- Strawberry Salad with Poppy seed dressing
- Grilled Shrimp and Corn Salad (Another salad that you can add to your collection of butter lettuce recipes)
- Quinoa Kale Salad
- Harvest Kale Salad
- Raw Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad
Butter Lettuce Salad Recipe
For the Lemon Vinaigrette:
- ½ cup olive oil
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 small cloves of garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
For the Salad:
- 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
- 1 bunch of asparagus – rinsed and cut into 2-inch small pieces approximately 1 lb.
- 1 ½ cups of peas fresh or frozen
- 2 heads of Butter Lettuce leaves gently removed, rinsed and dried
- 1 medium size English cucumber sliced thinly approximately 1 cup
- 4-5 radishes sliced thinly
- 1 cup sliced almonds lightly toasted
- 1 ripe avocado cut into cubes
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese optional
- Make the dressing: Place all the ingredients in a jar and give it a vigorous shake. Alternatively, you can place everything in a small bowl and whisk until emulsified.
- To Blanch asparagus: Fill a large pot with water and a tablespoon of salt and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with water and ice and set it aside. Place asparagus in the hot boiling water and let cook for 3-4 minutes.
- While it is cooking, fill a bowl with cold water and add some ice in it.
- Using a slotted spoon transfer the asparagus into the bowl with ice water. Do not discard the boiling water.
- To blanch peas: Add the peas into the now empty pot with the boiling water. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the peas are softened to your liking. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the ice water (where the cooked asparagus is)
- Drain both vegetables and set them aside.
- To assemble the salad: Place the butter lettuce leaves in a large salad bowl. Add in blanched asparagus and peas, cucumber slices, radish slices, sliced almonds, avocado cubes, and parmesan cheese, if using.
- Drizzle with the lemon salad dressing and give it a gentle toss. Serve.
- How to store? Feel free to prep and store each component in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to 2 days. Since butter lettuce is so tender, the salad does not store well in the refrigerator if already tossed with the dressing and should be eaten the day of.
- Be gentle as you toss the salad as the leaves of butter lettuce are more delicate compared to other types of lettuce.
- While it is an optional step, I highly recommend toasting sliced almonds in an empty skillet for a few minutes. This adds an additional layer of (roasted) flavor into your salad.