Boston lettuce or Butter lettuce
Boston lettuce or Butter lettuce

General Information

Mediterranean basin in its original form. Other varieties developed in the United States.

see introduction

Compositae family  
Bibb owes its name to John Bibb who developed this variety in Kentucky from Boston lettuce in the 1850s.

Garden plant whose two best-known varieties in North America are Bibb and Boston lettuce. How do you tell them apart? Boston's leaves are wider and lighter green than Bibb's.

Butter lettuce, as its name suggests, is so tender that it melts in the mouth like butter, particularly the heart, when the lettuce is picked at dawn. It forms a loose head of large leaves resembling an open rose. The name "Boston," though typically North American, may be found anywhere. The flavor of butter lettuce is very subtle: it lends itself to countless creative pairings.

Medicinal properties
Butter lettuce contains lactucarium which has effects similar to those of opium. Because of its sedative properties, it is recommended for treating insomnia, intestinal spasms and palpitations. It is said that the emperor Domitian "tortured" his guests at banquets by serving them a head of lettuce at the beginning of the meal. Not allowed to nod off in front of his imperial majesty, they were forced to fight off their sleepiness for hours.

Nutritional values per 100 g
Calories: 13; Water: 95.58 g; Carbohydrates: 2.32 g; Fat: 0.22 g; Protein: 1.29 g; Fiber: 1 g.
Rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, vitamins A, B, C and K.

Nice unwilted green leaves with no signs of damage or yellowing.

Butter lettuce is very fragile and its leaves wilt quickly. Store in a perforated bag in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator.

Wash at the last minute; otherwise the leaves will "fall" quickly.

Butter lettuce is sophisticated and likes sweet mellow pairings such as cream, fruity oils, honey and fruit.

Its wide leaves can be used to wrap whipped goat cheese, or fresh cheese such as ricotta or cottage cheese seasoned with herbs.

Fresh Idea 1
Replace the lemon juice in the classic oil-lemon mixture with orange juice; add a few pine nuts and some diced cold chicken.

Fresh Idea 2
Replace the lemon juice in the classic oil-lemon mixture with grapefruit juice; add some skinless grapefruit sections and northern shrimp.


Is your lettuce looking tired?
You can save it by throwing the leaves into boiling water for a few minutes with a handful of coarse salt; drain and purée in the blender. Pour through a strainer, pressing to extract as much juice as possible, Add to a cream sauce with lemon juice, shallots, butter and pepper to accompany grilled trout.

Market-Gardener's Style
Sauté some small bacon pieces and onions in a skillet with a little butter. Add the lettuce leaves, cover and cook gently for about 10 minutes.



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