Sunday, April 18, 2010

Use your spring lettuce

The lettuce is beautiful, fresh and crisp.

Topped with the bacon dressing, this salad will become a spring favorite.

We stopped at the downtown farmer's market yesterday morning. We saw the beautiful new lettuce and the Trout said, "you have to make wilted lettuce." And so, today, I did.

Back-tracking....when I first met my to-be mother-in-law, I realized immediately that she would be a cook to contend with. She was excellent, what I would call a true "farm cook", but everything out of her kitchen was delicious. One of my favorite memories, and there are many, was the beautiful lettuce that came out of her garden in early spring and her delicious wilted lettuce.

Then, we move to 1968 when the Trout and I were living in Germany. His sister, Joyce, corresponded with us frequently, through tape recordings or letters. I remember mentioning to her that I did not have any cookbooks with me and obviously, new bride that I was, did not have much in memory storage.

What a pleasant surprise when one day a package arrived for me. In it was a paperback cookbook, The All New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook. This paperback is now over 42 years old, a little ratty (being well-used), the pages are yellowed, the front and back covers have been torn off, but IT STILL WORKS FOR ME!! The Fanny Farmer cookbook was first published in 1896. I had the 15th printing, June 1968.

I have cooked out of this little book a lot through the years, but definitely the most repeated recipe was on page 258, "Wilted Lettuce". Today, I want to share it with you, because the time is right. Many of you are gardeners and the new lettuce is perfect for this. In fact, the only type of lettuce that will truly work to give this salad its exceptional taste. Yes, it has bacon and the dreaded word...BACON FAT...but once or twice a spring, it is definitely worth it. I hope you try it soon and let me know if you don't think it is the best.


Wash and dry thoroughly
2 small heads of tender lettuce (not iceberg)

Tear into pieces and put in a large salad bowl.

Fry until crisp 4 strips bacon. Drain the bacon on a paper towel and crumble into bits. Add to the fat in the pan

2 tablespoons vinegar (I use white, not Heinze, as it is too strong)
2 tablespoons water
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Heat to the boiling point. Add the bacon and pour the hot dressing over the lettuce. Toss to wilt the lettuce.


  1. Sounds great to me!

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  3. Susan, we have wilted salad often in the spring and summer; bacon fat and all, and I use that exact recipe.

    The 1965 hardback edition of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook was given to me by a dear aunt in 1967 right before we got married, so I have had it for 43 years now. It's definitely one of my favorite cookbooks and is starting to fall apart. I have a pic of it on the sidebar of my blog. It's at the point now where it needs a rubber band to hold it together. IT STILL WORKS FOR ME ALSO!

    Thanks for this nice post and I'm so happy it is one of your favorite cookbooks also! There's no salad like wilted lettuce!

  4. This Spring salad is right up my alley. Yummm!!! I remember my grandmother's Spring garden and how fresh everything tasted that came out of it. There's nothing like fresh
    veggies and your salad this time of the year!