Sometimes abundance is just too much. That’s what I think about lettuce right about now. With eight heads a week coming from our CSA, it feels relentless. Yes, I know, I don’t have to take it all, and I don’t. I make a variety of salads normally, and I have lots of baby kale in my own garden that would be perfect for that, but I’ve felt compelled to use the lovely lettuce instead. So I decided to turn the tables.
Shelling peas and snow peas are also abundant and it’s typical to steam them with lettuce leaves, but that takes care of only a few leaves not whole heads. After making a lettuce and pea soup (soup is another good way to cope with abundance), I remembered that dense heads of slightly bitter lettuce are good for grilling. There’s a favorite restaurant in Cambridge (or maybe Somerville), Massachusetts that serves grilled Romaine lettuce with some kind of garlicky dressing and Parmesan cheese, as I recall. A kind of grilled Caesar salad. Delicious. So here, in addition to cooking peas with lettuce, I cut my densest head in quarters and pan-roasted them, cut side down, in a combination of butter and olive oil. Served alongside peas, the lettuce was a meal unto itself. Except for that light kale salad we’ve been craving.