Over my lifetime I have probably made this salad more than any other: the simple French butter lettuce salad. It goes with everything from heavy stews and casseroles, to grilled meats and broiled fish. There is not a single occasion you'd put this salad on the table for where it would not be perfectly at home.
A long time lover of butter lettuce, I'd been making salads with it for years. But when I went to Le Diplomate in Washington, DC and had their version, I knew I had to step mine up just a little.
So here it is - my not so perfect dupe (theirs includes tarragon which has become impossible for me to find in the post-2020 world) but still perfectly delicious Le Dip-inspired French Butter Lettuce Salad.
What is butter lettuce?
The star of this salad, butter lettuce / butterhead lettuces are characterized by their round, tender leaves and mild flavor. They are not tightly wound around the stem, rather they lazily hang from it in a loose coil. There are many varieties of it, including:
- Butter / Butterhead
- ... and more!
Why make a butter lettuce salad?
Okay hear me out - because it's not as aggressively crunchy as an average salad. It's softer, more refined. And yes, you'll need to knife through the large, untorn leaves of butter lettuce that make up the gorgeous layers, but that's part of the charm.
What do I serve this healthy salad with?
- Grilled Rack of Lamb
- Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Bourbon Brown Sugar Glaze
- Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Artichokes (you can put this directly on top of the salad! )
Butter Lettuce Salad
- 2 Tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 ounces haricot vert or thin green beans trimmed
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 quarts water
- ice bath large bowl filled with ice water
- 1 head butter lettuce
- 1 watermelon radish sliced very thinly
- 4 red radishes sliced thinly
- 8-10 chives thinly sliced
- flake salt for garnish
- Bring a large pot filled with 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt and 8 ounces green beans. Boil for 3 minutes. Drain and add green beans to the ice bath. Leave in ice bath while preparing the rest of the salad.
- In a large bowl, combine the 2 Tablespoons minced shallot, 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard, ½ cup white wine vinegar, and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper. While steadily whisking, pour the olive oil into the bowl. Stopping occasionally to make sure it is all combining with the dressing before adding more oil.
- On a large platter, layer whole leaves of butter lettuce with drained blanched green beans, sliced radishes, and a drizzle of vinaigrette. You will not use all of the vinaigrette! Only dress to your taste. Top with finely sliced chives.