Meals that include lettuce generally involve eating it raw as a salad vegetable and as a garnish in soups, roasts and other foods, but it is also possible to cook lettuce and serve it hot. There are many delicious recipes for cooked lettuce dishes, particularly in Chinese and French cuisines. Depending on whether the crisp or the floppy types of lettuce are used, there are different ways of preparing lettuce and cooking with lettuce. It is possible to cook lettuce by pureeing, sauteing, braising, stuffing and so on.
When buying or harvesting lettuce, it is best to pick the fresh ones with non-wilted leaves. The first thing to do when preparing lettuce is to remove the core and separate the leaves. It is advisable to wash the leaves under running water as keeping the lettuce in water for an extended length of time can cause it to lose its crispness. Once the leaves have been drained and dried, they can be used whole or cut up; it depends on the dish you are making. In order to retain the delicate flavor of the lettuce as well as its crispness, it will help to cook lettuce for not longer than two to three minutes.
To cook lettuce for spring rolls, the lettuce leaves need to be lightly blanched. The vegetable or meat filling can then be wrapped within the lettuce leaves, and the rolls can be pinned with toothpicks and stir-fried. The leaves can be chopped or shredded for adding to an omelet, or to be cooked with peas and other vegetables.
The lettuce can also be drenched with a marinade and fried with garlic, salt and vegetable oil. The leaves can be fried until they wilt or they can be removed from the heat earlier. It is also possible to cook lettuce leaves by adding them to kebabs and grilling them. The lettuce will taste better if eaten while still hot.
Lettuce can be used with garlic, onions, parsley, tomato, eggs and cream to make a delicious soup. The garlic and onions are fried first and the parsley and tomato are added next, with the lettuce leaves following last. After stir-frying for a couple of minutes, water or vegetable broth is added to the pan and the mixture is allowed to simmer for half an hour. Beaten eggs and cream are now added to thicken the soup, with salt and pepper to taste, and the lettuce soup is ready to be served.